World AIDS Day: Honoring our Legacy of HIV Care and Service
On this World AIDS Day, over 40 years since the start of the HIV epidemic, I am humbled and honored to lead an organization that stands on the shoulders of many founding agencies that were among the first to provide HIV/AIDS services and care in our country.
Today, Vivent Health is a large multi-state organization. However, we started as several community organizations across areas of the country where HIV/AIDS was ignored by state and local governments. During this time, people living with HIV were turned away by many medical and dental providers and experienced discrimination in their daily lives as well as in employment and housing. From the early days of a network of AIDS Service Organizations across Wisconsin, the St. Louis Effort for AIDS, and AIDS Services of Austin, to Rocky Mountain Cares (Denver, CO), Thrive Health Connection (Kansas City, MO), local private and pharmaceutical HIV care practices, and all of the early grassroots groups that started these efforts, our collective histories have been relentless in the fight for the rights and care of those impacted by and lost to HIV.
This year the World Health Organization (WHO) has underscored persistent inequities and injustices as primary hindrances to progress in ending the HIV epidemic—with marginalized individuals and communities most impacted by HIV. Most notably, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities, individuals who use injection drugs, folks who identify as gay, bisexual, queer, same-gender loving, or are men who have sex with men, and women of transgender experience. Further, inequities in basic human necessities—including limited access to food, shelter, education, and health care— have increased exposure to HIV and negative health outcomes for people living with HIV.
Vivent Health’s legacy, and our future, remain committed to addressing inequities and injustices. Our care centers on all facets of life, including services and programs that focus on the social and structural determinants of health and HIV. Together, we stand poised to make a critical impact on efforts to end the HIV epidemic. Improvements and expansion of the work we do every day bring our mission to life—ultimately preventing HIV exposure and transmission and ensuring a long healthy life for our patients and clients.
Today we commemorate the many lives lost to AIDS-related illnesses and honor them through our memory, and stand in solidarity with those living with HIV, who we are proud to serve.
Several current Champions were a part of our rich history and founding organizations. We honor their contributions to our legacy as well as the contributions of new Champions, as together we shape the future of Vivent Health, continue the fight to end the HIV epidemic, and ensure equitable access to HIV prevention and care services.
Together, we are Vivent Health.