From CNBC, a fascinating story about how Walmart plans to expand its specialty HIV outreach initiative.
The story starts with what is known in the media biz as an anecdotal lede:
"David Rosario remembers the late 1980s with mixed emotions. He had achieved his goal of becoming a professional dancer in New York City, but in that world he also lost many young male friends to AIDS. There were few treatment options available then for the disease that hit the gay community especially hard.
"'It was sad at that time,' Rosario said. 'There was nothing there, so these beautiful people lost their lives.'
"Now, Rosario owns a restaurant in New Jersey with his husband. Every month, he picks up medication at his local Walmart pharmacy that makes HIV undetectable and untransmittable — a prospect that was unthinkable just a generation ago. But that ease of access now gives him hope."
The story notes that "Walmart launched an HIV specialty-pharmacy pilot program in late 2021, targeting just over half a dozen highly affected communities, including Rosario’s county in New Jersey … Now, the retail giant plans to expand its program to more than 80 HIV-specialty facilities across nearly a dozen states by the end of this year.
"The company’s pharmacists have undergone specialized training on HIV conditions and drugs to treat and prevent the virus."
CNBC writes that "the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates new HIV infections have fallen 12% in recent years, from 36,500 new cases in 2017 to 32,000 in 2021. Yet racial and ethnic disparities remain pronounced, with people of color accounting for a disproportionate share of new HIV diagnoses." And one of the challenges that Walmart is addressing is helping pharmacists figure out "how to begin a conversation with patients who might be at risk."
- KC's View:
Props to Walmart for addressing this issue.
And, while I'm at it, enormous credit has to be given to medical researchers who have developed medicines that make HIV "undetectable and untransmittable." Considering where we were in the seventies and eighties, that's extraordinary, and a reflection of the power of science once we got past the all the cultural and political obstacles to dealing with what was an epidemic.
(One of the best books I've ever read happens to be about this subject - "And The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic," by Randy Shilts.)