Walmart Increases Its Efforts to Hasten the U.S. Epidemic’s End
Walmart’s national pharmacy training initiative and four new community pharmacies focusing on HIV treatment were unveiled on World AIDS Day.
Incredible strides have been made in HIV screening, stigma reduction, and the discovery of new therapeutics that may not only stop the spread of the virus but also restore a normal lifespan in the four decades since the AIDS epidemic first emerged.
Despite these gains, about 40% of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the US today are not receiving HIV treatment on a consistent basis. Walmart’s mission is to help change that by expanding opportunities for learning, working, and thriving. With over 4,600 pharmacies in the United States and 90% of the population living within 10 miles of a Walmart, we can reach people who might not otherwise have access to or seek out HIV care.
We are reaching out to the public in a number of ways, one of which is by making HIV testing and treatment more accessible and more cost-effective. Through our Breakthrough program, we’ve decided to collaborate with the Elton John AIDS Foundation on national and local initiatives to raise money and awareness for the fight against HIV/AIDS. We’re also involved with a new business coalition called U.S. Business Action to End HIV, and we’re committed to helping them meet their goal of ending HIV in the United States by 2030.
Our overarching objective in all of these endeavors is to provide our communities with high-quality, compassionate care in a way that is immune to prejudice and discrimination.
We wanted to do more for our communities, so we opened our first three specialty pharmacies of the community (SPOCs) in the past year. These SPOCs offer a full range of services to their clients, from industry-leading clinical programs to HIV-trained pharmacists to improved care coordination to suggestions for a healthy lifestyle and emotional support from community health workers.
The lives of our patients are being improved thanks to these SPOCs. Every day, we hear about how our pharmacists go above and beyond to meet the unique needs of their HIV-positive customers. The Howell Mill SPOC pharmacy went above and beyond in helping one patient understand and follow their medication schedule.
Not only do our SPOC teams prioritize this group of patients, but so do many others. And we’ve heard from Walmart pharmacists all over the country that they’d like to get more education and credentials so they can better help their communities cope with the epidemic.
That’s why on this World AIDS Day, we’re doing two extra special things:
Our Special Pharmacies of the Community (SPOCs) network is being enlarged to better serve high-need areas in which the HIV epidemic has taken root.
Our hope is to help even more patients by applying what we’ve learned from the first three SPOCs. New HIV-specific SPOCs will be established in the following four regions in Q1 2023:
Locations: Shop 2003, 979 Route 1, North Brunswick, NJ 08902; Shop 2547, 41 Anawana Lake Road, Monticello, NY 12701; Shop 3795, 2100 88th Street, North Bergen, NJ 07047; Shop 5095, 495 Flatbush Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106; Shop 5095, 495 Flatbush Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106
Publication of a National HIV Prevention and Treatment Provider and Pharmacist Continuing Education (CE) Program
Because of our close working relationship with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we are pleased to offer this training program to all of our Walmart pharmacists and members of the Walmart Health team.
Developed at Duke University, the program will provide clinical and culturally relevant education to pharmacists and clinicians, empowering them to provide HIV-positive and at-risk patients with compassionate care that can overcome stigma and social barriers. Our team members will receive world-class education from this program, which in turn will provide world-class treatment to our clients.
The first training module was piloted by a small group of pharmacists at the four new SPOC locations and our entire staff of Walmart Health Community Health Workers to ensure it met the needs and busy schedules of our Walmart associates.
Both of these examples are examples of how we’re reacting to the feedback of our staff and customers.
We also endorse legislation that would allow pharmacists to prescribe PrEP and PEP medications. Reports show that patients visit their pharmacist nearly 12 times more often than they visit their primary care provider, demonstrating the significant value pharmacists provide to the communities they serve.
Different states have different policies, but currently 13 states, including California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, allow pharmacists to provide these vital HIV medications. We will keep backing initiatives to increase pharmacists’ ability to serve and aid their communities.
To this day, we will never waver in our dedication to providing our customers and patients with the best possible care, right in their own neighborhoods. Today, on World AIDS Day, we celebrate the fact that we have helped more people living with HIV or at risk of contracting the virus lead longer, healthier lives.