A customer walks past the pharmacy during the grand opening of a new Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location in Torrance, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. The Wal-Mart store, which was the first location to open in Los Angeles County since 2006, was built inside of a former Mervyn's clothing location. Photographer: Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walmart Takes a Step Towards Health Equity: Launches Free HIV Screenings at Two Virginia Pharmacies

By Kevin Host, Senior Vice President, Walmart Health & Wellness, Pharmacy

In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, Walmart is making a significant impact in the fight against HIV and AIDS by introducing a pilot program for free HIV screenings at two of its pharmacies in Virginia. This initiative is part of Walmart’s ongoing commitment to providing accessible healthcare solutions in the communities it serves.

The three-month pilot program, set to run at Store 2160 in Petersburg and Store 2795 in Ashland, aims to increase awareness, promote early detection, and encourage necessary care for those affected by HIV/AIDS. These locations are already designated as HIV-focused Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOC), staffed with trained pharmacists and Community Health Workers who specialize in supporting the unique needs of HIV/AIDS patients.

Walmart, with over 4,600 pharmacies across the U.S. and 90% of the population living within 10 miles of a Walmart store, is strategically positioned to reach individuals who might otherwise neglect their healthcare needs. The introduction of free HIV screenings represents a significant extension of Walmart’s commitment to community health.

The screening process, administered by Walmart pharmacists, involves a simple finger prick blood sample with results available in just 20 to 30 minutes. During this time, pharmacists engage with patients, discussing preventive measures such as STI tests, contraceptive options, the importance of pregnancy tests, medications for HIV treatment or prevention, necessary vaccines, and more.

It’s crucial to understand that these screenings are not diagnostic tests. In the event of a positive result, Walmart will assist patients in coordinating further confirmatory testing with their primary care physician or the Department of Health.

Walmart’s dedication to supporting HIV/AIDS patients extends beyond the screening initiative. In collaboration with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the company launched an HIV training program for pharmacists less than a year ago. The program has been successfully completed by every pharmacist across Walmart’s 85 HIV SPOC locations, ensuring that they are equipped to provide compassionate and culturally relevant care.

Overcoming stigma and social barriers associated with HIV/AIDS is a priority for Walmart. By expanding SPOCs to locations with the highest need, Walmart aims to create a supportive environment for those seeking care.

William ‘Bill’ Presley, the pharmacy manager at Store 2160, shares a personal connection to the cause, as HIV has impacted his own family. His dedication reflects Walmart’s commitment to fostering an open dialogue and providing the necessary resources for the community.

As Walmart continues to expand its Specialty Pharmacies of the Community, the goal is to transform the patient experience into a journey toward better care. On this World AIDS Day, Walmart honors those whose lives have been affected by HIV and AIDS, emphasizing the ongoing progress and the positive direction set by its Specialty Pharmacies of the Community.

For individuals seeking an HIV-focused SPOC near them, Walmart provides a locator on their website.


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