The Elton John AIDS Foundation and Walmart have joined 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.
There are currently 250,000 people in the U.S. southern region who are living with HIV and not on treatment, indicating an urgent need for HIV testing, education, prevention and resources in the area. Further compounding the health crisis, HIV disproportionately impacts communities of colour, 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 LGTBQ+ communities. Half of Black gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men projected to be diagnosed with HIV within their lifetime.
The three-year collaboration begins 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. To date, we have run two successful testing events across Atlanta, and provided over 160 people with free HIV testing. Walmart community health workers were on hand at all testing sites to provide counselling and referral to additional resources and care for those who needed it.