Since 1983, Colorado Health Network (CHN) has sought to innovatively and equitably meet the evolving needs of individuals in Colorado living with and at risk of acquiring HIV and other health conditions. Colorado Health Network is a statewide organization and currently serves over 5,250 individuals living with HIV by providing a broad spectrum of holistic support services including medical and oral health care, case management, behavioral health services, housing assistance, nutrition services, and emergency financial assistance. Each service CHN provides is strategically designed to help empower people eliminate barriers to treatment and care and to make healthy choices leading to increased stability and healthier lives.
CHN also works to prevent the spread of HIV through testing, promoting treatment as prevention and providing PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) services. CHN utilizes a spectrum of education and prevention services with a focus on meeting clients where they are in an effort to help decrease their risk over time. CHN serves a diverse population reaching them through media, community outreach and referrals. Additionally, CHN provides other health-related services including a sterile needle access/exchange program and insurance and medical enrollment services. CHN is a member of several advocacy organizations working to advance social and health care equity within Colorado.
In the early 1980s, the AIDS pandemic was just starting to come into public light. It was a time of confusion, with few people understanding what was happening, and little communication to help guide efforts to save the many people that were dying of this new disease.
Communities around the world acted swiftly, trying to develop any 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 of Colorado.
The Denver metropolitan area held the state’s largest population and the newly formed ASO established to serve the region took on the name Colorado AIDS Project (CAP). The organization was formally incorporated as Colorado Health Network, with the thought that work focused on the AIDS crisis would be a finite project. Other metropolitan areas of Colorado followed suit with the Colorado Springs ASO adopting the name Southern Colorado AIDS Project (SCAP), the Fort Collins ASO assuming the name Northern Colorado AIDS Project (NCAP), and the Grand Junction ASO implementing the moniker Western Colorado AIDS Project (WCAP).
For more than two decades, each AIDS Project throughout Colorado operated cooperatively yet independently from one another. In 2008 each office came together and began discussions around how services might be provided to the HIV community if 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 the merger of CAP, SCAP, WCAP, and NCAP was official.
The merged organization would be known as the statewide Colorado Health Network. The Denver office changed its name to Colorado Health Network and the statewide organizations underwent a name change to become Southern Colorado Health Network, Northern Colorado Health Network and Western Colorado Health Network to match that of the legal name of the organization.
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 returned to Colorado Health Network through merger, having spun out of the organization some twenty years prior. The addition of oral health care service provision ultimately provided the opportunity for Colorado Health Network to expand dental services to its southern and northern regions.
In January of 2019, Colorado Health Network further expanded its service offerings by opening a Medical clinic in the Denver office for those living with HIV or seeking PrEP/nPEP services. These services would be expanded to the other CHN offices through tele-health services over time.