Walmart Teams with Elton John AIDS Foundation to End AIDS in America
The Elton John AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 and is one of the leading independent AIDS organizations in the world. The foundation’s mission is simple: an end to the AIDS epidemic.
Walmart and the Elton John AIDS Foundation are joining forces on a new initiative to help accelerate the end of AIDS in America. Called “Breakthrough,” the three-year initiative will increase access, education and awareness to safe, convenient HIV testing and services.
“Breakthrough” will focus on the South, where there is an urgent need for accessible HIV testing, treatment and education, according to Walmart. The program will expand access to stigma-free testing in local communities there through testing events, a vital first step at effective prevention and treatment for people living with the disease, according to Walmart.
“Walmart is committed to helping our customers live better, healthier lives by making quality, affordable health care accessible for the communities we serve,” said Lori Flees, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart Health & Wellness. “The engagement with the Elton John AIDS Foundation is an important extension of our mission. 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, according to Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart. 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 LGBTQ+ population, with half of Black gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men projected to be diagnosed with HIV within their lifetimes, Walmart said.
“America and the world have set a goal to end the AIDS pandemic by 2030,” said Anne Aslett, CEO of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “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.”