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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
PENNSYLVANIA: Action AIDS Marks Silver Anniversary
Jen Colletta
October 6, 2011
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 5,000.

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 edge." 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 gala.