The Walmart AMP, Walmart and the Elton John AIDS Foundation have announced they are joining forces to change the course of HIV in the United States with the launch of “Breakthrough.” This new initiative aims to accelerate the end of AIDS in America by increasing access, education and awareness to safe, convenient HIV testing and services in the southern United States. The three-year engagement will begin by expanding access to stigma-free testing in local communities through testing events, a vital first step at effective prevention and treatment for people living with the disease, as well as education and awareness.
“Walmart is committed to helping our customers live better, healthier lives by making quality, affordable health care accessible for the communities we serve. The engagement with the Elton John AIDS Foundation is an important extension of our mission,” said Lori Flees, SVP and Chief Operating Officer, Walmart Health & Wellness. “By focusing on southern states, we’ll be able to advance health equity on a local level by increasing awareness and access to crucial testing resources for our customers who have the greatest need.”
There are currently 250,000 people in the U.S. southern region who are living with HIV but lack access to treatment, indicating an urgent need for HIV testing, education, prevention and resources in the area. Further compounding the health crisis, the AIDS epidemic disproportionately impacts communities of color, especially in the South, where people are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV over the course of their lifetime than Americans living in other parts of the country. The epidemic also has a significant impact on the LGTBQ+ population, with half of Black gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men projected to be diagnosed with HIV within their lifetime.
“America and the world have set a goal to end the AIDS pandemic by 2030. Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in the U.S. South must be addressed if America is to achieve its goal. This is only possible if no one is left behind. It is wrong that the color of your skin, your sexuality or your economic status should determine your risk of HIV. Walmart is part of the fabric of U.S. communities. Working together, we want to reach into the communities that most badly need support and help them where they are,” said Anne Aslett, CEO of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Walmart and the Elton John AIDS Foundation are united in a mission to increase access to HIV education, testing and resources and are committed to working towards a future free from AIDS.