Company: Walgreen Co.
Innovation: Walgreens HIV/AIDS Centers of Excellence
Award Recognition: Top Ten (#2)

Since the beginning of the epidemic more than thirty years ago, Walgreens has supported people living with HIV/AIDS through its ability to offer accessible health and wellness guidance to patients across the nation. The complex condition has claimed more than 22 million lives worldwide over the last thirty years, making it the deadliest epidemic of our time. Here in the U.S. alone, 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV today, with more than 50,000 new infections and about 18,000 deaths occurring each year.

One reason the epidemic continues to spread: one in five people living with AIDS do not realize they are infected. Only one in four people living today have their virus adequately under control with the proper use of antiretroviral drugs. Access to care and treatment continues to be a challenge, especially in medically underserved communities and communities of color.

Walgreens has been taking the fight against HIV/AIDS to hard-hit communities for decades. Thirty years ago, Walgreens stores served the gay community hardest hit by HIV. Today, HIV increasingly hits underserved and marginalized populations as well.

In recent years, Walgreens has forged the nation’s largest network of HIV-specialty pharmacies—700 Centers of Excellence—that put affordable and respectful pharmacy, health, and wellness services within reach of 90 percent of Americans living with HIV/AIDS. In all, more than 2,000 Walgreens and Duane Reed pharmacists, technicians, and other store employees have completed extensive clinical and cultural training so they can better guide patients in obtaining medications, finding financial assistance, and improving their quality of life.

Today, nearly one in three HIV/AIDS patients turn to Walgreens each year for care. Studies show that patients who utilize HIV-specially-trained pharmacists are more likely to adhere to their treatment regimens, which improves their quality of life and reduces the likelihood that they will transmit the infection to others.