AIDS Service Center, Pasadena Closes Doors After 28 Years

AIDS Service Center Executive Director Anthony Guthmiller (in red jacket) holds court at last year’s Big Night Out. - Photo by Terry Miller

AIDS Service Center Executive Director Anthony Guthmiller (in red jacket) holds court at last year’s Big Night Out. – Photo by Terry Miller

By Terry Miller

Pasadena-based AIDS Service Center (ASC), one of Los Angeles County’s most distinguished non-profits helping people living with HIV/AIDS, is apparently closing its doors.

For 28 years ASC has relied on Federal monies. In 2012, the government’s funding model changed, requiring ASC to provide medical care to its clients rather than through a third party.

In an effort to make certain there was no interruption in care, ASC delegated its federally contracted programs to the Pasadena Public Health Department to deliver these medical services.

The transition of medical care to an outside organization reduced ASC’s overhead yet also eliminated a primary source of funding. The organization has not been able to replace that funding despite the generous support of many individuals and companies in the local community. ASC’s cessation of operations also means that “Big Night Out,” the organization’s annual gala fundraiser normally scheduled for the beginning of May, will not be held but may continue in support of another nonprofit organization.

Pasadena Now quoted Andrea Vining, chair of ASC’s board of directors: “We thank everyone who has sustained our efforts over the past 28 years to educate the public about HIV/AIDS; support those with HIV/AIDS; and to remove the stigma associated with this disease. We ask supporters to continue this effort because, despite advances in drug therapies that have extended the lives of those with HIV/AIDS, there are still more than 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV, and almost 1 in 7 or 14 percent of them are unaware of their infection. With or without an ASC, the fight against HIV/AIDS must continue.”

Pasadena Independent spoke with the former Executive Director, Anthony Guthmiller, last Friday afternoon.

“It’s bittersweet,” Guthmiller said. “We closed the doors Feb. 28 but were hoping to work with ChapCare…

“Unfortunately, that partnership did not work out.”

Guthmiller said that the timing is bad for the San Gabriel Valley as no one stressed the educational aspect of sex other than ASC.

In fact, Guthmiller said the majority of public schools do not offer health education classes which, of course, were mandatory when this reporter was in high school.

Guthmiller had been with ASC for 14 years and at present is exploring several options. “I have a heavy heart.”

The news of ASC closing comes at a crucial time in the city of Pasadena’s Health arena. The city Health Dept. will be laying off several people in the not-too-distant future … leaving lower income clients with few options for healthcare or sex education.

Guthmiller also said that although the previous Director of Public Health, Dr. Eric Walsh, was a supporter of ASC, “They didn’t move forward with our ideas and we never really had a relationship with Pasadena Health Dept.”

As for the future of low-cost health care, “ChapCare has the biggest potential …” Guthmiller said. “However, they have no HIV experience.”

The closure of ASC creates a “huge vacuum in the community … .” he finished.

May 6, 2015

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