Over the past four decades since the HIV epidemic began, we have seen incredible progress in HIV screening, reducing stigma and the development of new therapeutics that may not only prevent disease transmission, but also lead to normal life expectancy. Despite this progress, of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, about 400,000 of them are not on regular HIV treatment.1 At Walmart, we want to change that with access to education, services and resources. With more than 4,600 pharmacies in the U.S. and 90% of the U.S. population located within 10 miles of a Walmart, we have an opportunity to reach people who might not otherwise have access to or seek out HIV care.
One of the ways we are reaching people is by offering affordable testing and treatment and increased access to HIV research initiatives. We’ve chosen to partner with the Elton John AIDS Foundation on national and local initiatives to increase awareness and access to resources and education through our Breakthrough program. We’re also a founding member of the U.S. Business Action to End HIV, a new coalition of businesses committed to accelerating progress to end HIV in the U.S. by 2030. Across all of these efforts, our goal is to offer compassionate care to our communities in a manner that overcomes barriers and stigmatization.
To try and do even more in our communities, last year we launched our first three Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOCs) to help customers with all aspects of care, including industry leading clinical programs, pharmacy services provided by HIV-trained pharmacists, enhanced care coordination, healthy lifestyle recommendations and emotional support services from our Community Health Workers.
These SPOCs are making a difference in the lives of our patients. We hear stories every day of the care our pharmacists take to understand a patient’s needs and help them through their HIV journey. One patient shared how the Howell Mill SPOC pharmacy team helped them understand and adhere to medicine schedules, going above and beyond to help manage their care.
And it’s not just our SPOC teams who are focused on this important patient population. We’ve also heard from Walmart pharmacists across the country say they want additional training and certifications to support their communities facing this epidemic.
That’s why this World AIDS Day, we’re doubling down on our commitment in two important ways:
These are just two of the ways we are listening to what our associates and patients are telling us.
Additionally, we support policies to grant our pharmacists prescribing authority for PrEP and PEP therapies. Pharmacists are integral members of the community that bring significant value to the individuals they serve, and reports have shown patients see their pharmacists nearly 12 times more often than they see their primary care provider.2 However, policies can vary between states, with 13 states currently allowing pharmacists to provide these needed HIV medications, including California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah. We will continue to support efforts to expand services that pharmacists can provide to better support communities.
We remain committed to offering the highest quality care to our customers and patients, right in their communities. This World AIDS Day, we are proud to help even more of our patients with or vulnerable to HIV to live better – and healthier – lives.
1 - U.S. Statistics: Living With HIV. https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics
2 - Enhancing pharmacists' prescribing power boosts access to PrEP: GoodRx study: https://www.goodrx.com/healthcare-access/research/pharmacist-prescriber-authority-hiv-prep