Earlier this month, Walmart opened 70 HIV-focused Specialty Pharmacies of the Community (SPOC) in locations across the country and the retailer plans to bring the total to 80 locations in 10 states by the end of 2023.
The first wave of openings were in Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Florida and were accompanied by free HIV testing events. The retailer did not specify where the remaining stores will be opened.
Walmart also said it plans to expand its focus in 2024 to include other autoimmune conditions such as skin, joint and gastrointestinal conditions.SPOC pharmacies are staffed by Walmart’s team of HIV-trained pharmacists, technicians and Community Health Workers, who are dedicated to removing barriers to care. The locations aim to help the retailer gain a greater understanding of the needs of people living with HIV as well as offer services tailored to their specialized needs.
Each SPOC is located discretely within a Walmart pharmacy and offers services including discussing treatment options, conversations around mental health, sharing resources and helping navigate insurance options. Walmart pharmacies see about 150 million customers each week, giving the retailer an opportunity to reach people who might not otherwise have access to or feel comfortable seeking HIV care through its SPOCs.
“Our pharmacists work with the patient’s prescribers to partner on a treatment plan that is best for them,” said Aleata Postell, Senior Director of Specialty Pharmacy Business Development at Walmart in a statement. “Our pharmacists are an integral part of a patient’s care team — and that’s exactly how our pharmacy teams are trained.”
Postell has a personal reason to improve HIV care and accessibility, as a family friend was diagnosed with HIV years before they revealed the diagnosis and began searching for treatment.