View the BESTD Clinic web site at this link (will open in a separate browser window).
The BESTD story comprises a long history of volunteers providing healthcare services to greater Milwaukee. In the early 1970's, a group of concerned and caring people in the Gay People's Union (GPU) saw rising incidences of sexually transmitted diseases in Milwaukee and the lack of sensitive, accessible resources for diagnosis and treatment. Their discussions and encouragement from the Milwaukee Health Department and the Wisconsin Division of Health resulted in the founding of the "Gay People's Union Venereal Disease Clinic" (GPU VD Clinic) in October 1974. After being housed at a few other sites, the Clinic was relocated to a building on East Brady Street, spun off from the GPU, and began using the name "Brady East STD Clinic" (aka The BESTD Clinic).
In the early 1980s, when a new epidemic seemed to be targeting gay people, there was virtually no government response to the crisis, which was often referred to as "the gay plague". The BESTD Clinic staff saw a critical need for action, and thus was formed the Milwaukee AIDS Project, a "committee" or related effort of the BESTD Clinic. Sue Dietz volunteered to head the project. As the crisis grew in scope however, it became obvious that no "gay" organization could get the recognition that would be required to take advantage of government grants to properly 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 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 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 staff member and Executive Director.
Even after primary AIDS efforts were spun off to the ARCW, BESTD Clinic became one of the early pioneers in HIV antibody testing with the mission of providing unmet or underprovided services. Clinic volunteers also initiated "outreach clinics" for off-site testing. One of the early outreach clinics was done in concert with the Milwaukee Health Department and offered counseling and testing for those at risk to both HIV infection and tuberculosis.
Today BESTD is one of the most active and accessible HIV testing sites in the State of Wisconsin. But primarily BESTD continues its nearly 50-year tradition of diagnosis, testing and treatment of STD's to ensure the overall health and well being of the community; at no cost to its clients, and with an entirely volunteer staff.
(View the full story of the BESTD Clinic history from an excerpt from the Clinic's own web site.)
Credits: website concept, contents, design and format by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: October-2022.
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