The AIDS Committee of Ottawa was formed in 1985 after Barry Deeprose, a board member at Pink Triangle Services, declared there was an urgent need to deal with the growing AIDS crisis in Ottawa.
A first meeting on October 9th that year draw large crowds of people desperate for information on the epidemic, as so little was known and so little was being done about it. ACO incorporated as a non-profit charity in 1987 and funding became more available.
They shared a space with the Canadian AIDS Society at 267 Dalhousie in 1988. It moved to this address on Queen Street in the early 1990s and was here for about a decade until it moved to 251 Bank Street, where many other queer businesses and services, like Capital Xtra and Bruce House, were already located. In 2013, it moved to its current location at 19 Main Street.
The organization has changed with the changing needs of the HIV/AIDS community. Starting as an organization primarily run by lesbians and gay men, as they were the most hardly hit community in the early stages of the epidemic, the organization then reached out to other vulnerable communities such as the African/Caribbean communities. Its services focus on support, prevention and education.
The Living Room drop-in offers a safe space for HIV-positive people to gather and socialize, and eat a complimentary meal. ACO also runs a needle-exchange program and several support groups.
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