Philadelphia Gay News (09.29.11) - Thursday, October 06, 2011
This month Action AIDS marks its 25th year of providing
personalized care to a client base that has grown from 100 to
Executive Director Kevin Burns notes Action AIDS first helped
"people die with dignity" but is "now helping people to live
with the HIV disease."
Although equality in access to care remains an Action AIDS
focus, its mission also encompasses housing and quality-of-
life issues. And, while its roots are in the gay community,
the organization inclusively serves marginalized populations
across lines of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and age.
Buoyed initially by the work of 84 volunteers looking to
assist loved ones with HIV/AIDS, Action AIDS retained that
spirit of volunteerism as former clients became volunteers,
and it sustained one of the nation's first Volunteer Buddy
programs. Burns himself went from volunteer to case manager in
1988, and director six years ago.
Burns adds that personal ties to HIV/AIDS still draw some, but
others now simply want to volunteer or work there because of
the importance of Action AIDS' cause and a realization that
"the model of care that we have is really on the cutting
A recent Department of Health and Human Services Health Care
Planning Grant of $80,000 will fund a yearlong assessment of
access to care for those with HIV/AIDS. Burns hopes the
assessment will lead to partnering with "an existing primary-
care center to provide better access for people with HIV" or
"opening our own primary health care facility that would
eventually become a Federally Qualified Health Center."
A 25th anniversary awards gala on October 22 will commemorate
Action AIDS' history and look ahead to its future. For ticket
information, visit www.actionaids.org/events/25th-anniversary-