This year marks 30 years of POSITIVELY AWARE (PA) magazine. What started out as TPA News, a local newsletter for TPAN (the HIV service organization that publishes PA), became Positively Aware and with the launch of the November 1990 issue went national. This year as we mark our 30th anniversary of publishing, we’re looking back at some of the stories and people who helped make POSITIVELY AWARE what it is today: a vital resource for so many.
PA30 is a national campaign commemorating the 30th anniversary of POSITIVELY AWARE that will focus on leaders, influencers, and readers who stand out as champions for others affected by HIV. Our “PA30 Champions” celebrates those who have helped pave the way for others and who help inspire the champion within each of us. PA30 Champions will be featured here in the magazine as well as in multimedia storytelling via email and social media. Through PA30, we invite readers and followers to share their stories and celebrate PA’s impact on their treatment decisions and personal journey with HIV.
Meet Glen Pietrandoni, RPh, AAHIVP, someone who exemplifies the qualities of a PA30 Champion. Under Glen’s leadership, Walgreens trained more than 3,000 pharmacists in HIV care in communities across the nation, including those with high HIV prevalence, to uniquely support HIV testing, education and care. In his personal life, Glen has been a tireless advocate and volunteer. He served on the board of TPAN, the publisher of POSITIVELY AWARE, and was a regular contributor to the magazine with his ongoing column “Medicine Chest”. Glen’s impact has extended to national policy and leadership circles, through his past work with the White House Office of AIDS Policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
In writing about the early days of the epidemic, Glen says, “In my mind, the history of HIV and my own history as a pharmacist are indelibly linked. I’d only been out of pharmacy school for a few years when the first AIDS case was documented in 1981, and as a gay man working in a predominantly LGBTQ community, the ensuing crisis felt deeply personal.
“At first, nobody knew what was happening; we just knew people were dying and there was no cure. There was a lot of stigma, fear and confusion in those days, and the community wasn’t sure who they could trust. Along with other doctors, nurses, social workers, as pharmacists, we helped people ease their suffering with the limited options we had. We were all scared, but did what we could.”
In a recent blog earlier this year announcing a new chapter in his life Glen says, “After almost 30 years, it’s time to say goodbye to my Walgreens family. I have spent the vast majority of my professional career at Walgreens. It’s been 50 years since I walked into the neighborhood Rexall drug store the summer before starting high school in 1970 and worked there through a pharmacy degree in 1979. In 1967, I wrote (see above) a school assignment that proclaimed my desire to become a “pharmasist [sic] and travel the earth.” (We didn’t have spell check back then.) In the ’80s, with a business partner, I was co-owner of a number of drugstores that we eventually sold to Walgreens in 1989 and I have been here ever since. I am grateful for the friendships, mentors, and inspiring individuals that have been a part of my journey here at Walgreens for all these years.
“I’ve had a series of unique opportunities at Walgreens as one of the first RxPress managers, the first onsite pharmacy manager at Howard Brown Health, first disease state lead for specialty, first provider sales team director, and first patient advocacy director. Along the way, I’ve been able to speak with patients in underserved urban communities in the United States, providers in rural China, numerous celebrities and government leaders and to countless team members in the field. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have traveled throughout the country and around the globe, all in an effort to accomplish our goal of helping people.
“Having said that, it did take some courage with brand and reputational risk, both from a large corporation and personally. In the early days, it was not easy to stand up for people who were ostracized by society, stigmatized by disease and lifestyle choices, and who did not have a voice. Together we have accomplished so much by focusing on serving our patients and delivering the best care possible with professionalism and without judgement.
For this honor and privilege, I am eternally grateful to have been a part of the Walgreens Company and its great tradition.”
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