In the early 1980s, the AIDS pandemic was just starting to come into public light. It was a time of confusion, with nobody understanding what was happening, and little communication to help guide efforts to save the many people that were dying of this new disease.
Communities across the world acted swiftly, trying to develop whatever action plans they could in reaction to the growing crisis, including many communities throughout Colorado. From these rapid responses grew a number of organizations that, over the years, would each develop into the largest AIDS Service Organizations (ASO) in the state.
Denver held the state’s largest population, and the newly formed ASO took on the name Colorado AIDS Project, with the thought that what was occurring would be a finite project. Other metropolitan areas of Colorado followed suit with the Colorado Springs ASO adopting the name Southern Colorado AIDS Project, the Fort Collins ASO assuming the name Northern Colorado AIDS Project, and the Grand Junction ASO implementing the moniker Western Colorado AIDS Project.
For more than two decades, each AIDS Project throughout Colorado operated cooperatively yet independently. In 2008, at the request of several funders, each office came together to begin discussions about how services might be provided to the HIV community if federal funding were to disappear. As discussions evolved over the next three years, organizational leaders began to see the benefits of merging, and in October 2011 made the merger official.
The merged organization would be known as the statewide Colorado Health Network working under the dba of Colorado AIDS Project. The Denver office gave its name to the statewide organization and underwent a name change to Denver Colorado AIDS Project (DCAP), matching its name to its regional service area. Northern Colorado AIDS Project (NCAP), Southern Colorado AIDS Project (SCAP) and Western Colorado AIDS Project (WCAP) retained their regional names as dba entities.
The creation of the newly-expanded Colorado Health Network increased the ability to sustain necessary services to meet the evolving needs of those impacted by HIV in Colorado, while decreasing the overhead of operating four independent offices.
In the summer of 2014, Denver’s Howard Dental Center merged with Colorado Health Network, adding Oral Health Care to the list of services already being provided, and allowing Colorado Health Network offices the opportunity to expand dental services offered in various parts of the state.