The Guardian Health Association grew out of the New
Haven People with AIDS Coalition in 1989. A small group of gay
men realized that HIV was growing into other communities, and we
wanted to take the focus off of HIV, AIDS, death and dying to Health,
Healing, and manageability. They also felt that by not having
HIV or AIDS in the group name, might encourage others who were afraid,
or unable to be associated with HIV in any way, might be more willing
to get involved.
The group, which already consisted of long term survivors back
then, realized that HIV could be managed even though the medications
at that time were limited and very toxic. While the prevalent
thinking was to hit HIV hard and early, we advocated for keeping the
body healthy and HIV in check for as long as possible until HIV
medications were absolutely necessary. This philosophy is now
becoming more accepted by medical professionals who have seen the
devastating side effects that HIV medications can sometimes bring.
The group knew that in order to survive HIV, one not only had to
fight the virus, but also pay attention to those factors that keep
the body healthy and strong such as diet, nutrition, exercise,
reducing stress, rest, and relaxation.
While group members advocated for better health care, and access
to nutritional therapies, they would often pull their limited
resources together and buy supplements in bulk at substantial
discounts. As HIV buyers clubs began to emerge, and wellness
programs became available, the need for this activity diminished.
With the dawn of protease inhibitors, group membership and
participation fell. Support groups began to disband as well,
as it was hoped that this new class of drugs would keep HIV in check
if not even eradicate HIV totally.
During this period, the small group continued to advocate for
better health care and treatments, as well as educate consumers on
important aspects of living with HIV. This was done through
workshops on nutrition and exercise at local HIV conferences,
speaking to local groups about the importance of exercise and muscle
mass, and spear heading campaigns to increase awareness about
wasting and nutritional depletion even with the new HIV cocktails
In 1998, a group member and co-founder, also
co-founded the Greater New Haven HIV Consumer Council. When no
AIDS Service Organization took this new group under their fiduciary
wing, the Guardian Health Association incorporated in 2000 as
membership non-profit, dedicated to education and support.
The Greater New Haven HIV Consumer Council started out strong
with 30 members, and was a leader in HIV Consumer Advocacy that lead
to many of the wellness programs that currently exist today in the
New Haven area. The web site at
successful, and requests were made to expand it to cover other areas
besides the Greater New Haven area. The group decided to pull
out of local activities in which they felt they had no voting power,
and expanded it's focus to Connecticut.
The Connecticut HIV Consumer Council is dedicated to continuing HIV
advocacy and legislative efforts.
With many new exciting projects underway, The Guardian Health
Association, Inc, hope to fill some gaps that have been too long
ignored in terms of HIV prevention and care. Some of these
continued accomplishments are: