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26-06-2012 16:09:00

Walgreen to Offer Free HIV Testing in 3 Cities Under CDC Pilot Program

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By Victoria Stilwell

Drugstore giant Walgreen Co. (WAG) will offer free HIV testing in select pharmacies in three markets as a part of a Center for Disease Control and Prevention pilot program designed to increase access to HIV testing, education and care.

The CDC plans to use results from certain pharmacies and in-store clinics in areas identified as highly impacted by HIV to develop a model that pharmacists and nurse practitioners can use to implement nationwide HIV testing.

Certain pharmacies in Chicago and Washington, D.C., and a select clinic in Lithonia, Ga., are offering the free HIV testing, Walgreen said.

If a preliminary positive is revealed, the pharmacy or clinic will refer the patient to a local health care provider for confirmatory testing and care.

"Walgreens is uniquely positioned to advance the role of community pharmacy to become a community health care provider, and this public-private initiative underscores the value of collaboration in helping to raise awareness about HIV testing, prevention and treatment," said Mike Ellis, Walgreen's corporate vice president for specialty and infusion.

Earlier this month Walgreen agreed to buy a 45% stake in the pharmacy-led health and beauty group Alliance Boots GmbH in a $6.7 billion cash and stock deal as it looks to diversify in a changing global health market.

The drugstore chain also reported its fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 11% as sales continued to decline on the loss of Express Scripts Holding Co.'s (ESRX) members. Walgreen at the end of last year allowed a contract with Express Scripts to expire, resulting in some clients going elsewhere to fill their prescriptions.

Shares rose 10 cents to $29.09 in recent trading. The stock is off 12% so far this year.

Write to Victoria Stilwell at Victoria.Stilwell@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 26, 2012 10:09 ET (14:09 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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