Whitman-Walker Health: Caring for LGBT and HIV patients since 1973

LGBT people and people living with HIV have a lot to celebrate. Access to healthcare is within reach for many and the LGBT community can celebrate huge strides towards equality. HIV is no longer a death sentence. But even with these advances, there is still a lot to be done.

12142243_1541167489513490_1069507782_nWhile the number of yearly newly reported HIV cases in the D.C. area has been steadily declining over the last 7 years, HIV is still a real threat to urban communities, which often lack the information to protect themselves and the access to the right treatments. Moreover, LGBT citizens, especially transgenders, are still too often marginalized and denied appropriate medical care.

While the days when AIDS caused panic are gone, there is still need for expert research, policy-changing advocacy work, and identity-affirming healthcare. The fight for equal access and quality of healthcare is as crucial as ever, and Whitman-Walker Health is at the frontline.

What’s the story?

In all that has changed over the past four decades since their beginnings in a church basement in 1973, Whitman-Walker has remained true to its mission: to be the highest quality, culturally competent community health center serving the greater Washington’s diverse urban and LGBT communities. For over 40 years, Whitman-Walker Health has provided an unwavering and extraordinary commitment to the health needs of our these communities, including those living with HIV.

Founded as an affirming health center for the gay and lesbian community, Whitman-Walker was one of the first respondents to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in D.C. and became a leader in HIV/AIDS education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In recent years, they have expanded their services to include primary care and, in 2005, medical and support services for the transgender community. The organization also provides free legal aid to clients, including those who have been victims of discrimination.

What’s the impact?

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Whitman-Walker Health serves over 15,000 patients annually regardless of their ability to pay and administers about 10,000 free HIV tests every year. It also offers at-cost HIV-related medications, works to keep HIV-positive people engaged in care, and researches new treatments and prevention strategies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

The organization has been involved in disease, prevention, and treatment research since 1987, and has conducted over 70 studies that have included over 2,000 patients. It also provides free legal aid to clients, focusing on workplace rights, public benefits, immigration cases, debt collection, and transgender matters, among other legal issues.

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How to get involved

You can make donations or sign up to volunteer for one of Whitman-Walker’s epic events here. Are you looking to make a career move? Whitman-Walker Health is hiring!

Getting married? Another way to show your support for this great organization is to set up a charitable wedding registry! Learn more here.

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