PHILANTHROPY FRIDAY: Kevin Burns Talks ActionAIDS and the Opening of the West Annex Clinic

Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week, Kevin Burns tells us about ActionAIDS‘ first HIV primary care clinic, which opened earlier this month, and other ways the local nonprofit is making sure no one in Philadelphia has to face AIDS alone.

Ken Burns, executive director of ActionAIDS.

Kevin Burns, executive director of ActionAIDS.

Who are you? I’m Kevin Burns, executive director of ActionAIDS.

When was ActionAIDS founded? In 1986, at a time when governmental and philanthropic support for HIV/AIDS services was nearly non-existent. A group of 84 committed volunteers came together in Philadelphia and formed a community of care for their partners, family and friends with AIDS. ActionAIDS was the result, with a mission statement that read simply: “ActionAIDS believes that no one should face AIDS alone.”

What’s ActionAIDS’s shining moment, to date?: The opening of our West Annex Clinic earlier this month. After many months of planning, we’re excited to have launched our first HIV primary care clinic, in partnership with the Family Practice and Counseling Network. This clinical service will be coordinated closely with our medical case management services, also provided at the West Annex and focused on our clients at high-risk to be lost to care. Our medical case management services are highly effective in retaining clients in care, and the West Annex Clinic will increase our ability to do that. The initial effect of case management services is particularly dramatic: Average viral load drops 76 percent during the first six months.

One-sentence mission statement? ActionAIDS is committed to creating an AIDS-free generation through a combination of proven strategies, including medical case management, HIV testing, prevention education, supportive housing, HIV treatment as prevention, and volunteer services.

If a check for $1 million found its way to my doorstep … I would use it to truly “think out of the box” and launch a highly innovative HIV prevention program, targeting the most difficult-to-reach at-risk individuals.

ActionAIDS teammates at the new Annex West.

ActionAIDS teammates at the new Annex West.

Special events coming up? You bet. On February 19th, join us as Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Philadelphia hosts a night of glitz, glamour, and good fortune with its 2nd annual Glamsino Royale: Havana Nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Next, our signature event, Dining Out for Life, will have a landmark 25th anniversary on Thursday, April 20th. More than 150 restaurants in the greater Philadelphia area will be participating. Dine out at one of these restaurants on April 20th, and they will donate one-third of your food bill to ActionAIDS!

Are there other ways I can contribute without giving money? Absolutely! ActionAIDS has a very successful volunteer program, and we can always use your involvement. We typically take on 75-100 new volunteers annually—in the ActionAIDS Buddy Program, in particular. Now in its 30th year, it’s the largest HIV/AIDS volunteer buddy service in the United States. It provides a model of how peer support can complement and augment the work of medical case management professionals by providing one-on-one emotional support, companionship, and occasional assistance with the tasks of daily living, to consumers. For more information on volunteer opportunities at ActionAIDS, please contact Jay Johnson, volunteer coordinator at or 215-981-3324.

How can I donate cashola? Thanks for asking! Individual donations are a crucial part of our budget every year, and 84 cents of every dollar we spend goes directly to client services. Please visit our secure donation page, or mail a check to us at 1216 Arch Street, 6th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Burns and staff in the West Annex Clinic | Photo by Scott Drake / Philadelphia Gay News

Burns and staff in the West Annex Clinic | Photo by Scott Drake / Philadelphia Gay News