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Walmart pilots free HIV screenings

Walmart HIV screening
Walmart is testing a free HIV screening program.

Walmart is running an HIV screening pilot at two Walmart pharmacies in Virginia, which will offer free HIV screenings and results during the test phase.

Set to last three months, the pilot is operating at Walmart pharmacies in Petersburg and Ashland, Va., which are already HIV-focused Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOC) staffed with HIV-trained pharmacists and community health workers who are equipped to support HIV/AIDS patients throughout their treatment.

Since launching its HIV training program with the Elton John AIDS Foundation less than a year ago, every pharmacist across Walmart’s 85 HIV SPOC locations has completed it. This training equips pharmacists and clinicians to support patients with or at risk of HIV/AIDS through clinical and culturally relevant education. Walmart says it is expanding its SPOCs to locations with the most need.

The test will be administered by Walmart pharmacists and is a finger prick blood sample, which takes between 20 and 30 minutes to return results. While the test is running, pharmacists will discuss other preventative measures such as sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests, contraceptive use, the need for a pregnancy test, medication that can treat or prevent the spread of HIV, and vaccines a patient may need.

These tests are screenings, not diagnoses. In the event of a positive test, Walmart will help patients work with their primary care physician or the Department of Health to order a confirmatory test. 

“The ability of Walmart pharmacists to support HIV/AIDS patients is something we’re particularly proud of,” Kevin Host, senior VP, Walmart Health & Wellness, Pharmacy, said in a corporate blog post. “And it hasn’t been without extra work on their part. And with more than 4,600 pharmacies in the U.S. and 90% of the U.S. population within 10 miles of a Walmart, we have the opportunity to reach people who otherwise simply may never seek care. This new testing opportunity takes our commitment to care a step further.

“Today, we remember and honor those whose lives have been forever changed by HIV and AIDS,” said Host. “While we reflect, we also look toward a brighter future. There’s more progress to make, and our Specialty Pharmacies of the Community represent a step in the right direction. 

[Read more: Walmart hikes wages for thousands of pharmacists and opticians]

Based in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries.

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