TPAN - The Test Positive Aware Network Presents:
Dr Gary Bucher, Edward Kuras, Arthur Paris & Cassandra Damm

TPAN empowers people living with HIV through peer-led programming, support services, information dissemination, and advocacy. We also provide services to the broader community to increase HIV knowledge and sensitivity, and to reduce the risk of infection.

Friday, June 19th, 1987, 16 people gathered with Chris Clason. These seventeen people were drawn together by the desire to share experiences, exchange ideas and information, and provide and accept support from each other. This was the beginning of Test Positive Aware Network.

At the time Chris had sought out support groups in Chicago but found that the only ones available were for people with a diagnosis of AIDS or what was then called ARC (AIDS Related Complex). Chris had neither of these conditions. He was HIV positive, but feeling well. He felt he had come to terms with being HIV positive and was not "in crisis". Yet, he also felt the desire for support and the desire to support others.

Chris' idea for a support group was rather simple. It would be a place for the exchange of information and personal experiences (not histories!). It was to be a group where professionals provided input as information, not therapy; a group where access to information was provided so that individuals could evaluate and decide their own treatments; a place for doctors to speak, but also alternative therapists, researchers, social workers, and other resource people. And finally, it was to be a place for social interaction, for meeting people; a place where one could "drop their guard" regarding their HIV status.

Since that initial meeting of 16 people TPAN has grown, changed, evolved. Biweekly meetings became weekly meetings became multiple meetings each week. Social programs and gatherings were started, and ended and started again. Services evolved from just support groups to include the broad range of services offered today—support groups, one-on-one support, prevention services, community outreach, speakers bureau, a medical clinic, needle exchange, HIV services directories and Positively Aware.

Today we are one of Chicago's oldest agencies devoted exclusively to HIV related services. We are the oldest peer-led HIV service provider in Chicago with over 65% of our staff being HIV positive as well as the majority of our volunteers. Today, we continue to fulfill the dream and vision of Chris Clason and the 16 other individuals who first met in 1987—we remain a place for sharing of information; a place for sharing of experiences with living with HIV; a place that is welcoming to all impacted by HIV. TPAN today—Committed to You—Committed to Living.