Our History

A SHORT STORY ABOUT LAAN
          The Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network Inc. (LAAN) was established in August of 2002. Previously, Executive Directors of AIDS Service agencies from around the state were experiencing excessive delays in receiving executed grant contracts from the state and local governments; making it difficult to deliver services to clients, and creating concern for infected and affected individuals. The Executive Directors loosely formed a coalition to bring awareness of the situation to the Authorities. At the time, the climate of the State government was not sympathetic with the implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives and began a campaign to reign in condom distribution. At this point, the Coalition of Executive Directors saw the need to expand to include members of the affected community to advocate for the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and to educate the state government at large about the epidemic.

          With financial assistance from the pharmaceutical industry, the coalition called a meeting in Alexandria, Louisiana – a central point in the state – of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS to brainstorm on how make the community at large aware of the rapid expansion of the epidemic and its devastating effects. A facilitator from Alabama, which had assisted that state in organizing people with HIV/AIDS, was present to guide the meeting. Out of this meeting, on August 28, 2002, LAAN was created. It called for an organizational structure consisting of a steering committee of 19 members selected to represent each of the 9 Hospital Regions, as defined by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Its fiduciary agency was selected and established. The next step was to nurture and grow the organization. In 2003, the first event of the newly formed LAAN was an event at the state capital (Baton Rouge) during the Legislative Session to educate legislators about the epidemic. This was done in conjunction with the Louisiana Commission on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. The Commission is a legislatively mandated body whose mission is to educate and advise the Governor and the legislature on issues relating to HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. This event is now known as Legislative Awareness Day and has taken place every year since, with growing attendance. LAAN has actively monitored the legislative sessions, to promote healthy legislation and caution against detrimental legislation.