In collaboration with the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) is furthering its commitment to improve HIV treatment outcomes for African Americans living with HIV by deepening pharmacists’ training and expanding access to the pneumococcal vaccination specifically indicated for persons living with HIV as incidents of flu and pneumonia rise. Pneumococcal disease can spread from a sneeze or cough and can cause significant or life threatening infection for those with chronic illnesses. People living with HIV are at a higher risk of pneumococcal disease – 35 times greater than someone unaffected by HIV at a similar age. 1 African Americans are at an even greater risk as nearly half of all new HIV infections 2 are within the population and African Americans have the lowest seasonal vaccination rate at 40 percent 3. Pneumococcal vaccinations specifically indicated for persons living with HIV are available at all Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies to help meet preventive care needs of African Americans living with HIV. Walgreens specially trained pharmacists are working closely with physicians to understand patient needs and deliver individualized, comprehensive care including vaccine administration. “We understand that African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV and can be heavily impacted during the cold and flu season when pneumonia may be more prevalent,” said Glen Pietrandoni, Walgreens director of specialty products and services, virology. “In addition to stocking our HIV-specialized pharmacies with the CDC-recommended vaccine, we have provided additional pharmacist training so that each of our more than 2,000 HIV-specialized pharmacists is prepared to provide both seasonal and general wellness consultations and administer this vitally important vaccination.” With HIV-specialized pharmacies accessible to nearly 90 percent of the U.S. HIV population, Walgreens is uniquely positioned to help decrease vaccine preventable diseases in HIV-positive populations that were previously difficult-to-reach and often live in medically underserved areas.
Walgreens works closely with NMAC and other community organizations and advocacy groups with one goal in mind – be a part of the solution to end AIDS.“It is especially critical that people living with HIV remain vigilant not only about managing the virus, but also protecting their overall health,” said Dr. Kim Johnson, NMAC director of community advancement and leadership strategies. “With cold, flu and pneumonia rampant, the importance of protecting already compromised immune systems is even more pronounced. This means getting vaccinated, eating well, and regularly washing your hands. NMAC is pleased to partner with Walgreens to encourage minority communities to safeguard their health, by promoting and expanding access to critical preventive health services.” Pneumococcal vaccinations are fully covered through Medicare Part B and select pharmacy and medical plans. About Walgreens As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2013 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens ( www.walgreens.com) vision is to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America, and beyond. Each day, Walgreens provides more than 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 8,200 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers, provider practices, and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 750 locations throughout the country. 1 Heffernan RT, Barrett NL, Gallagher KM, Hadler JL, Harrison LH, Reingold AL, Khoshnood K, Holford TR, Schuchat A. Declining incidence of invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae infections among persons with AIDS in an era of highly active antiretroviral therapy, 1995-2000. J Infect Dis. 2005 Jun;191(12):2038-45 2 National Minority AIDS Council 2010 research; 46 percent 3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention