History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Organizations - Health

AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin



Health care: AIDS/ HIV
(male and female)

View the Vivent Health web site, the current identity of what was once the ARCW (will open in a separate browser window).


In the early 1980's, with the discovery of a new infection targeting primarily the gay community, the The Brady East STD Clinic (BESTD Clinic) formed a special project, called MAP, or Milwaukee AIDS Project, to address the crisis. As the crisis became more of a threat, it became obvious to the general community that this new disease needed broad community support, and the sad truth was that no "gay" organization could get the recognition that would be required to take advantage of government grants to address the crisis.

A task force made up of the BESTD Clinic President, Nova Clite; MAP Director, Sue Dietz; the president of the Cream City Business Association, Marc Haupert; and the president of the Cream City Foundation (CCF) and GAMMA, Don Schwamb, was formed to find a solution. The result was the formation of a new organization, to be spun off from BESTD Clinic's MAP/ Milwaukee AIDS Project- that new organization being named the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. Marc Haupert became ARCW's founding President, Don Schwamb its founding Vice President, and Sue Dietz its first/ paid Executive Director.

Incorporated in 1985, ARCW had modest beginnings, with one staff person (Sue Dietz) and primarily focused on addressing needs in the greater Milwaukee area. ARCW was based first in an old residence a block from what was then St. Anthony Hospital near the Milwaukee Police Headquarters building; it later moved to a location at 315 W. Court St., just west of the old Schlitz Brewery complex (the same building that would years later house the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center). During these early years a critical need became a residence for people with AIDS who had no other place to live, and an early major fundraising effort was directed toward finding and renovating a house in the Sherman Park neighborhood, near Sherman and Hadley.

Over time the organization continued to grow, becoming truly state-wide in service, with headquarters moving to a building in downtown Milwaukee, and finally to 820 N. Plankinton/ N. 2nd (just south of Kilbourn). By the time of its 20th anniversary in 2005, it had full time staff of over 100 people, presided over by long-time Executive Director Doug Nelson, and with presence in 7 offices throughout the state.

"20 giving 20" was one of the ways the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin commemorated its first 20 years in the battle against AIDS in Wisconsin. They selected 20 individuals or organizations who were key contributors to the cause throughout those first 20 years, and honored them at the annual Make A Promise dinner and extravaganza. The 19th annual Make A Promise Dinner, Dance & Silent Auction was held on April 9th, 2005 at the Calatrava-designed addition of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Guests enjoyed Milwaukee's best silent auction, delicious food, fireworks and dancing.

Landmark events in ARCW's history include the following:

  • 1987 - first "Make A Promise" gala fundraising event
  • 1989 - opened its first food pantry
  • 1990 - inaugural AIDS Walk Wisconsin
  • 1991 - ARCW Legal Assistance Program launched
  • 1993 - ARCW merges with Eau Claire AIDS Sservice organization
  • 1994 - Lifepoint Needle Exchange program debuts in Milwaukee
  • 1996 - ARCW Dental Clinic opened; ARCW merges with Center Project in Green Bay and Appleton
  • 1997 - ARCW begins drug treatment program
  • 1999 - ARCW mergers with La Crosse AIDS Service Organization, Central Wisconsin AIDS Network (Wausau) and Northern AIDS Network (Superior) are completed
  • 2001 - ARCW opens first medical clinic
  • 2007 - ARCW becomes largest provider of medical care to people with HIV in Wisconsin
  • 2012 - ARCW opens first HIV-specialty pharmacy in Wisconsin
  • 2013 - ARCW earns first designation in US as an HIV-dedicated, patient-centered Medical Home from the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • 2015 - ARCW merges with AIDS Network in Madison, WI.
  • 2017 - ARCW merges with Rocky Mountain CARES
  • 2018 - ARCW merges with St. Louis Effort for AIDS
  • 2019 - ARCW changes name to "Vivent Health" and brand unveiled nationwide

Major Fundraisers and Events:

Article: MAP is in the forefront of AIDS Education
(In Step v4-20, Nov. 1987)
ARCW purchases house as home for PWA's
(In Step v5-05, April 1988)

ARCW names new Acting Director
Lynn Syverson
on Susan Dietz's resignation
(In Step v5-09, June 1988)
ARCW names new Executive Director,
Doug Nelson
(In Step v5-17, Sept. 1988)

Founding of the ARCW
In Step vol 2 issue 26
(view photo)


Credits: web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
TImeline of dates from Vivent Health website.
Last updated: March-2022.

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