SAN FRANCISCO, April 5, 2022– This month, San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) commemorates its 40th anniversary with the historical campaign, “40 Years of History & Innovation.” With the campaign, SFAF honors its history as a grassroots organization devoted to HIV and AIDS activism, education, prevention, and service–in addition to the many leaders who have acted in bold and brave ways to change the landscape of HIV locally, nationally, and globally.
“It is an honor to lead SFAF into the future of the HIV response during our anniversary year–when we remember our history and honor early leaders in HIV,” said Tyler TerMeer, PhD, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “I am truly inspired by the many activists, volunteers, front-line workers, community leaders, and long-term survivors who have forged a difficult path forward during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Those of us working in the field today stand on the shoulders of heroes, and we honor that history. At the same time, we keep an eye on the future, knowing that there is so much work that needs to be done to ensure health justice for all.”
SFAF was founded in 1982 as the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation by Dr. Marcus Conant, Frank Jacobson, Cleve Jones, Richard Keller, Bob Ross, and Dr. Paul Volberding, who took quick and decisive action in response to the mysterious disease that would later be known as AIDS. Operating out of a one-room storefront on Castro Street in San Francisco, the agency’s first service was a telephone information and referral Hotline.
As the devastation of the AIDS crisis grew over the years, the not-for-profit agency expanded its menu of services, branching out with community-led support groups, policy and advocacy work, needle exchange and syringe access, HIV and STI testing and prevention, housing subsidies, AIDS education, sexual health services, substance use services, and more. Now, SFAF’s vision is for a future where health justice is achieved for all people living with or at risk for HIV.
“This anniversary of the agency I co-founded 40 years ago is bittersweet,” said Cleve Jones, activist and co-founder of SFAF. “We look back and see how far we’ve come and how many advances have been made since the early years, but we also remember the many we’ve lost along the way. The anniversary also serves as a stark reminder that the fight is far from over. I’ve been reflecting on the fierce work of advocates over these past four decades, the loved ones we lost, and what the future will look like when we end the epidemic. I know the organization is ready to take on that challenge to end the HIV epidemic.”
Over 40 years, SFAF has:
- Provided hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. with information about HIV and AIDS through our Hotline, notably during the early years of AIDS when accurate, up-to-date information was difficult to come by;
- Significantly diminished the rate of HIV infections among people injecting drugs in San Francisco by establishing and building out one of the first legal needle exchange programs in the U.S.;
- Advanced the concept of–and playing a leading role in advocating for–the Ryan White CARE Act, which would go on to bring billions of dollars in HIV care funds to people living with HIV nationwide;
- Changed the conversation nationwide around Queer safer-sex practices through bold (and at times controversial) media campaigns that normalized LGBTQ relationships and sex;
- Elevated the field of sexual health service provision for LGBTQ people through our sex-positive, harm-reduction focused clinic, Magnet; and harm reduction-based counseling support for gay, bisexual, and transgender men through the Stonewall Project;
- Established the largest community-based PrEP clinic soon after the FDA’s approval of Truvada, serving thousands of gay, bisexual, and Queer men and other people at risk of HIV yearly since 2014.
To learn more about SFAF’s 40th anniversary and view historical photos visit: https://www.sfaf.org/collections/general-posts/40-years-of-history-innovation/.