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Craig Bowers
Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer

APLA Health Commemorates 40 Years

In 2023, the agency celebrates “40 Years of Life” in Los Angeles County.

APLA Health (formerly known as AIDS Project Los Angeles) is officially celebrating its 40th anniversary, reflecting on four decades of compassionate care and service, under the theme “40 Years of Life”.

On January 14th, 1983, the agency was officially founded by Nancy Cole Sawaya, Matt Redman, Ervin Munro and Max Drew with the election of its first board of directors. Originally operating out of a closet at the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, the agency’s first service was a single-line, volunteer staffed information and referral hotline.

As the devastation of the AIDS crisis rapidly increased over the years, the agency expanded its menu of services, to a provider of comprehensive health and HIV support services, HIV testing and prevention education and government advocacy.

Today, APLA Health is recognized as a Gold Level, HRSA Health Center Quality Leader, with eight Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) sites throughout Los Angeles County serving over 18,000 patients and clients.

“APLA Health humble origins was born from a group of concerned citizens who took quick and decisive action in response to a mysterious disease. I am truly inspired by the many activists, front-line workers, volunteers, community leaders, and long-term survivors who persevered through unimaginable circumstances in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Those of us working at the agency today stand on the shoulders of these heroes,” CEO Craig E. Thompson said. “This milestone is a celebration of all of those who supported APLA Health throughout the years. As we look to the future, knowing that there is so much work that needs to be done, our team remains committed to our organization’s mission of restoring dignity and trust within underserved communities by providing world-class LGBTQ+ empowering healthcare, support services, and HIV specialty care.”

To celebrate 40 Years of Life, APLA Health will be unveiling its feature-length documentary, “Commitment to Life”, about the true story of the fight against HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles by Emmy Award-winning director, Jeffrey Schwarz. In addition, the agency will be throwing numerous in-person events to commemorate its 40th Anniversary throughout the calendar year including our signature fundraising events, “Best in Drag Show“ and “AIDS Walk Los Angeles”.


APLA Health restores dignity and trust within underserved communities by providing world-class LGBTQ+ empowering healthcare, support services, and HIV specialty care. Since 1983, APLA Health has remained steadfast in its commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our lifetime. The agency is a multi-site operation includes eight Federally Qualified health Center (FQHC) locations, serving more than 18,000 people annually in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous. We provide 20 different services including: medical, dental, behavioral health and HIV specialty care; PrEP counseling and management; health education and HIV prevention; and STD screening and treatment. For people living with HIV, we offer housing support; benefits counseling; home healthcare; and the Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries; among several other critically needed services. Additionally, we are leaders in advocating for policy and legislation that positively impact the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities and conduct community-based research on issues affecting the communities we serve. For more information on APLA Health visit https://aplahealth.org.