HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Thousands of people have depended on AIDS Foundation Houston since its founding, but a lot has changed in the fight against the disease in the last 41 years.
The organization announced Monday it is changing its name to Allies in Hope, and undergoing a revolutionary expansion to eradicate HIV in Houston.
CEO W. Jeffrey Campbell told Eyewitness News the name change will make a big difference in the fight against HIV.
"'AIDS' in 2023 is a very stigmatizing term for both people living with HIV, as well as those who are vulnerable for HIV," Campbell said. "The word literally stops people from getting services, even from us."
In one case, Campbell said a homeless person turned down housing from his organization because of its association with the word "AIDS."
While the name is new, Campbell said the mission of his organization isn't changing.
As part of its expansion, Allies in Hope said it is moving to a brand-new, 12,000-square-foot facility in Midtown, with close proximity to Second and Third Ward, Downtown Houston and Montrose.
The move will increase accessibility to HIV and STI screenings and treatment, in addition to case management, housing programs, and other vital supportive services.
A new mobile testing unit will also bring customized health services to Houston's most vulnerable communities, ensuring quality access to care for those who need it most.
"It is a magnanimous game changer because it gives us an opportunity to be in more than one place," Campbell said.
This isn't the only time Texas' first AIDS service organization has undergone a name change. Founded in 1982 as Kaposi's Sarcoma Committee, the organization later became KS AIDS Foundation before landing on AIDS Foundation Houston.
Allies in Hope provides care to almost 6,000 men, women and children affected by HIV, and educates more than 75,000 people throughout Texas.
For more information and to donate, please visit AIHHouston.org.