The AIDS TASKFORCE OF GREATER CLEVELAND, a nonprofit established in 1983 as the Health Issues Taskforce of Cleveland (incorporated in February 1984), is the oldest organization in Ohio to serve people with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Its mission is to provide compassionate and collaborative responses to the needs of people infected, affected, and at risk of HIV/AIDS. The Taskforce was founded at a conference for lesbians and gay men at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIV. The original goals of the Taskforce encompassed health issues affecting lesbians and gay men (see GAY COMMUNITY). However, because of the increasing demand for services for people with AIDS in Northeast Ohio, the Taskforce turned its attention solely to this disease in 1984. The Taskforce has offered case management, medical referrals, legal and financial services, counseling, and buddy programs to men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS. In 1985-86, it initiated the city's first wide-scale media campaign about AIDS, created a Speakers Bureau, and targeted education programs to the African-American community. The Taskforce increased its outreach to the Latino and Latina community in 1988, and to WOMEN in 1990. In 1994 the organization changed its name to the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland to reflect its broad community-based outreach to people with HIV and AIDS.
Throughout the late 1990s, the Taskforce expanded its programming to include transportation assistance to clients for accessing HIV-related support and resources through the Ryan White Financial Assistance Program, as well as providing early intervention case management, and making a variety of support groups available to people living with the disease.
In October 2000 the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland and the AIDS Housing Council of Greater Cleveland merged. The union created a more streamlined organization with greater capacity to serve people living with HIV/AIDS. The newly amalgamated organization began an ambitious housing program, providing apartments and paying utilities for low-income AIDS/HIV infected individuals. At the end of 2000, 350 Taskforce clients were assisted through the initiative.
Beginning in 2002 the Taskforce began an innovative public outreach campaign, Art + Action + AIDS, which mined the talents of contemporary artists, incorporating their work and AIDS awareness messages on billboards in targeted urban neighborhoods. The project included work by artists Christa Donner, Anna Arnold, and Douglas Lucak. The inventive outreach initiative was funded by the City of Cleveland's Department of Public Health, curated by John A. Chaich, and designed by Arlene Watson. The Taskforce continued its social marketing efforts in 2005.
In 2005 a volunteer board of twenty-one trustees governed the organization. An executive director and a full and part-time staff of more than fifty members carried out the mission of the Taskforce. The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland has been an agency of UNITED WAY SERVICES since January 1994. It also received funding from the Ohio Department of Health, local and national foundations, special events, and donations from corporations and individuals. In 2005, the Executive Director of the AIDS Taskforce was Earl Pike. Taskforce offices were located at 2728 Euclid Avenue.
See also MEDICINE.