The first reports of a strange new disease affecting gay men and injection drug users begin circulating in the medical and gay/lesbian communities.
Case Western Reserve University hosts a conference on gay/lesbian health issues. As a result of that event, several people begin meeting in private homes to explore the possibility of starting an organization to deal with lesbian/gay health issues. “GRID” (the improperly-named “gay related immune deficiency syndrome”) was just beginning to gain attention nationally, and to some degree locally.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that AIDS has become a problem in Cleveland as people from east and west coasts move home to be with their families. The disease was showing up among injection drug users and the African American community locally. Education efforts center around dispelling widespread fear and misinformation about AIDS.
The Health Issues Taskforce (HIT) is incorporated as a nonprofit organization, with an exclusive focus on AIDS. It is the first AIDS organization in Ohio.
HIT leases office space at the Civic in Cleveland Heights and hires a part time Director. The new organization receives a grant from the US Conference of Mayors to implement a public awareness campaign. The Speaker’s Bureau is formed, and the first benefit — Dancin in the Streets — raises $12,000.
The first Buddy training is held, with 20 volunteers participating.
HIT moves to larger offices at 2250 Euclid Avenue. The Board signs a lease for a house for people with AIDS.
HIT hires full time Director of Education, making 3 full-time staff. Dancin in the Streets raises $20,000. The City of Cleveland has 143 diagnosed cases of AIDS. HIT begins prevention programming targeted to the African American community and hires an Education Coordinator. Housing splits off to become the AIDS Housing Council — an independent organization that rents office space from HIT. The year saw expenses of $149,500 and revenue of $130,600. The Center for Families and Children begins partnership project with HIT which locates a counselor and respite worker at HIT offices. The Special Immunology Unit at University Hospitals opens.
HIT hires full time Education Coordinators for the Hispanic and Gay communities. The annual budget is about $250,000.
The City of Cleveland has 246 diagnosed cases of AIDS. HIT hires a Director of Services and launches its HIV case management program, serving 169 people with AIDS.
The number of cases in Cleveland jumps to 462. Kamana Place, the AIDS Housing Council’s assisted living facility for PWAs, opens. HIT now has nine staff. First AIDS Walk is held – “Step In The Right Direction” — and raises $12,000. HIT launches new safer sex campaign for gay men entitled “We Got You Covered.”
Northeast Ohio receives $167,000 in Ryan White Title II assistance. The HIT board undertakes strategic planning initiative. Cleveland has 692 AIDS cases, and HIT serves 360 people with AIDS. Prevention programs provide education to 26,000 Greater Clevelanders. The annual budget is now about $500,000.
The AIDS Walk becomes joint fundraiser for HIT, the AIDS Taskforce, the AIDS Housing Council, SAMM, the Free Clinic, and the Living Room.
A year of transition: large staff turnover and a total of 12 staff. The Development Department is formalized with the hiring of the first Development Director. HIT changes its name to the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, reflecting its true mission. Four additional organizations (the Open House, the Women’s Center, the Hemophilia Foundation, and Planned Parenthood) join the AIDS Walk as beneficiaries.
A Management Assistance Program consultation is completed, resulting in a restructuring of the AIDS Taskforce to increase efficiency. Six organizations (the Taskforce, SAMM, the Living Room, the Open House, FACT, and the Housing Council) begin meeting to discuss possible collaboration/merger. The AIDS Taskforce moves to a larger office space at 2728 Euclid Avenue.
The FACT Nutrition program merges into the Taskforce, and begins offering home delivered meals and maintaining a larger foodbank. Cleveland is declared a Title I city, making it eligible for increased federal funding.
The Taskforce forms a partnership with Recovery Resources to provide on-site alcohol/drug counseling for clients. A transportation program is added to help clients get to and from medical appointments and other essential locations.
The AIDS Taskforce serves 718 clients, delivers 35,000 meals, and provides education for 15,000 Greater Clevelanders. Education programs become more research and behavior-change oriented. The budget is $1.5 million, and there are now 30 staff. With the departure of Dr. Victoria Cargill, SAMM merges into the Taskforce.
The AIDS Taskforce serves 777 clients with an annual budget of $1.7 million. Education programs expand considerably; by the end of the year there will be nine. The AIDS Taskforce helps form the AGAPE Partnership with Antioch Baptist Church, and begins to develop other, related partnerships for capacity-building.
The AIDS Taskforce adopts a new strategic plan, and creates a Public Policy Initiative to advocate on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS. There are now 41 staff and an annual budget of $1.8 million.
The AIDS Taskforce completes a merger with the AIDS Housing Council, resulting in a post-merger agency serving approximately 1,400 people with AIDS; an annual budget of $3.4 million; and over 60 staff.
The AIDS Taskforce launches its Art/Action/AIDS social marketing billboard campaign, reaching hundreds of thousands of at-risk Clevelanders with safer sex messages.
The AIDS Taskforce completes a merger with The Open House; massage therapy services continue at the Taskforce’s current location.
The AIDS Taskforce opens the Beyond Identities Community Center (BICC), a support program for youth located twelve blocks from the Taskforce’s main office. Since opening, over 600 Cleveland-area youth have joined BICC.
The Taskforce, with now with 75 staff and over 1,800 clients, relocates to 3210 Euclid Avenue to increase its capacity to serve the community.