Oldest Group of HIV-Positive Americans Bankrupt, Ending Operations

The National Association of People with AIDS, the largest and oldest membership advocacy group made up of Americans living with HIV/ AIDS –– who now number 1.2 million –– has ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy.

“Leaving the stage is bittersweet: bitter, because NAPWA so wanted to be here to see the end of the HIV epidemic; but sweet, because the end of HIV and AIDS is coming,” the suburban Washington-based group said in a February 14 release. “With wider testing and treatment, the HIV epidemic could end today –– but there are social and political barriers to getting the job done.”

The group singled out the need to find a vaccine to prevent new infections.

NAPWA was founded in 1983 to implement the Denver Principles aimed at giving those living with the virus a voice in medical and policy decisions made regarding the epidemic. It was NAPWA that pressed the public to refer to those diagnosed with AIDS-defining illnesses as people with AIDS rather than as “victims.”

The group pioneered AIDSWatch, an annual event in which people living with the virus meet with HIV policy experts in Washington and lobby Congress. The Treatment Access Expansion Project and AIDS United will carry on that effort.

NAPWA also founded National HIV Testing Day in 1988, as well as forging targeted outreach programs to African Americans and Latinos living with the virus.