We Want You To Know that AIDS Action Committee (ACC), New England’s oldest and largest provider of services to people living with HIV/AIDS in New England is not “closing” but it is shutting down multiple services including and not limited to housing and legal services for people living with HIV and a “Youth on Fire” program in Cambridge, which offers homeless and at-risk youth services like food, clothing, medical care, and HIV prevention education. Boomerangs, which was an award-winning resale store with locations in Jamaica Plain, Cambridge and West Roxbury and their sister store, Boomerangs Special Edition, located in the South End neighborhood of Boston is also closing next month – AAC received 100% of the funds raised by Boomerangs which in prior years earned well over one million dollars each year towards vital services.

AIDS Action Committee (ACC) has an interesting history in that it was founded in 1983 by a group of volunteers connected to Fenway’s Board as a special committee of the Fenway Community Health Center.  In 1986,  AAC became an independent entity which grew both quickly and financially to meet the vital needs of the community. Early on, AAC received millions of dollars in funding from local, state, and federal grants, targeted entities like Boomerangs, annual fundraising events like the annual AIDS Walk in June (renamed in 2023 as “Strides for Action”) and the annual “Taste of the South End” each March.

In the beginning of 2006, the Healing Our Community Collaborative (HOCC) moved into AAC to help reach women living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS and assisting women with accessing the services and support from AAC that was primarily accessed and utilized by men.   In 2006, AAC was the recipient of Elton John AIDS Foundation grant totaling $13,096.52 targeted for women’s support.

In 2010, AAC merged with Cambridge Cares About AIDS into a new agency operating under the AIDS Action Committee name. The organizations joined together after nearly two years of strategic planning and stakeholder-led development. In 2010, AAC tried to take over HOCC and in turn, HOCC moved out of AAC to a new location – the Old South Church, became an independent entity and incorporated as a 501C-3 non-profit (on June 8th HOCC will be celebrating its 27th Anniversary).      In 2010, AAC also merged with Strongest Link AIDS  Services, Inc..

In 2013, AIDS Action Committee (AAC) returned to Fenway Health as AAC formally merged with Fenway Health – the plan was that each organization would retain its own name, brand and non-profit status. Fenway’s Board of Directors would assume fiduciary responsibility and governance of AIDS Action, and an advisory council would be formed. Rebecca Haag, then President & CEO of AIDS Action suggested this “partnership will benefit every person living with HIV/AIDS who relies on Fenway or AIDS Action for care or services by working together more closely, they will be able to grow available HIV/AIDS resources and services and reach more people than either organization has been able to on its own.”   Not long after this merger, AIDS Action, became Fenway’s Public Health Division.

 Now, 9 years later, the Globe (8.2023) paints Fenway Health with a backdrop of financial challenges, staff turnover, turmoil among top leadership, and questions about its commitment to racial equity (“Fenway Health staff and managers clash as iconic agency plots future” https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/08/16/metro/fenway-health-center-union-crises/). This week (5/14/2024), Fenway Health announces that it is closing down all of their “non-health care” services provided by the AIDS Action Committee. Fenway Health published this month (in both the Boston Globe – attached below and Fenway’s Health Newsletter https://fenwayhealth.org/fenway-health-announces-operational-changes/)  that it is making changes to the management of their wrap-around public health services provided by AIDS Action which is identified as Fenway Health’s Public Health Division. These services include both housing and legal services for people living with HIV, “Youth on Fire” program in Cambridge, which offers homeless and at-risk youth services like food, clothing, medical care, and HIV prevention education.  All these services, and the state contracts that pay for them, will be transferred to different organizations that specialize in providing housing, legal, or youth services, on July 1, 2024. The names of those organizations have not been released since contract negotiations are ongoing. The assumption is that if housing and legal aid groups might not have been able or willing to serve AIDS patients decades ago, they are now.

Currently,  Fenway Health will  provide technical assistance to AIDS service organizations around the country on how to improve health outcomes for people living with HIV. Their  current work is with organizations serving justice-involved individuals, individuals with substance use disorder, and LGBTQIA+ youth living with HIV. Interestingly, They will also run a training program for clinical providers across the country on how to meet Black women’s HIV prevention care needs even though the Globe reports that Fenway Health was  “grappling with a reputation of being unwelcoming to Black and brown LGBTQ+ people”.

Help with Legal Assistance?

  • Massachusetts Legal Resources Finder


     answering a few questions, the resource finder will provide you with contact information

    for legal aid offices, government agencies and court programs that may be able to help you for

    free or at low cost. It also gives you links to free legal information and self-help materials.

  • JRI Health Law Institute


    HLI Intake Line: 857.399.1910

    HLI Intake Email: HLI@jri.org

    The JRI Health Law Institute (HLI) offers holistic, client-centered, trauma-informed legal services

    to low-income individuals living with and at high risk for certain health conditions.

  • Greater Boston Legal Services



    GBLS attorneys and paralegals provide critical legal advice and representation to low-income individuals

** Program Resource Packet for Housing: https://fenwayhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/Program-Resource-Packet.pdf