“Our location on Peach Orchard Road in south Augusta is a Center of Excellence for HIV/AIDS patients,” said Christina Barbin, Walgreens Community Leader. The staff at that location has received specialized training. “So it was a perfect fit.”
David Thompson, Community Outreach Specialist for the GHSU Ryan White Program, said the partnership breaks the biggest barrier to serving its health district. “Piecing together the network of businesses and organizations willing to donate the space and host testing events has been a challenge. And in the past, many of the larger businesses would say no,” Thompson said.
And because the program covers an area approximately the size of New Jersey – 13 Georgia counties plus Aiken and Edgefield in South Carolina – some rural areas have gone without a regular event.
“This will allow us to move into Burke and McDuffie counties,” Thompson said.
The partnership targets the fifth of the million-plus U.S. citizens infected with HIV who are unaware they have the virus.
“We had a tremendous response to a one-day testing event, and we have decided to offer it regularly,” Barbin said.
The stores will promote the events and the Ryan White Team will staff and complete the testing services. In addition to allowing the team to reach out to new areas, the partnership will allow Walgreens to continue developing Centers of Excellence for HIV and AIDS patients. In addition to specialized training, these centers stock common drugs for the diseases, work with health care providers to minimize drug interactions, assist with co-pay issues and deliver or ship medications to patients to ill to collect them.
“All of this helps to increase compliance with treatment,” Barbin said. “And that’s good for everyone.”
The Ryan White Outreach Program will offer free HIV testing on a regular basis. For more information, or a calendar of testing dates and locations, call 706-721-4463 or visit csrasafetynet.org.