Our History

In November 1973, the Gay Men’s VD Clinic, part of the Washington Free Clinic, began operating in the basement of the Georgetown Lutheran Church. This was the birth of what was to become Whitman-Walker.

For nearly four decades, WW has been renowned – locally, nationally and internationally – for the high-quality, culturally sensitive care it provides. This work remains critical in an area with the highest HIV infection rate in the country.

In November, the Gay Men's VD Clinic, part of the Washington Free Clinic, begins operating in the basement of the Georgetown Lutheran Church. 

The Clinic hires its first full-time staff.

Clinic leaders separate from the Washington Free Clinic and begin to develop their vision for a new, diverse health care organization.

Whitman-Walker Clinic is officially chartered on Jan. 13. The DC Department of Human Resources provides $15,000, the first city funds to support the organization. In October, Whitman-Walker Clinic opens a new, rented facility at 1606 17th St., NW.

A financial crisis threatens the Clinic. The administrator resigns; programs are eliminated. The Clinic moves into more affordable space on 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

An as-yet-unnamed mysterious new disease begins striking primarily gay men in the nation's largest cities.

On April 1, board member Jim Graham becomes Clinic president. In September, Whitman-Walker hires its first board-certified medical technologist for an in-house laboratory offering testing for various sexually transmitted diseases.

On June 5, the Centers for Disease Control's weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report contains an account of five young gay men who had an unusual cluster of infections This is the first medical report on what would come to be known as HIV/AIDS.

On July 27, the CDC identifies a condition that is later named Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

 Whitman-Walker launches an AIDS Education Fund to provide information, counseling and direct services to people with AIDS.

The first District of Columbia contract for AIDS services is awarded to Whitman-Walker: $17,500 to operate the DC AIDS Infoline. The Clinic begins its first prevention advertising campaign.

The Clinic opens an AIDS Evaluation Unit, the first gay, community-based medical unit in the country devoted to the evaluation and diagnosis of AIDS symptoms. Fifty-five patients are treated the first year, half with AIDS.

Whitman-Walker opens the Robert N. Schwartz, M.D., House, the city's first home for people with AIDS. A second house opens in December. The Clinic begins anonymous testing for what is then called HTLV-III, becoming the largest testing site in the region.

Whitman-Walker’s housing program expands to four more homes. The Clinic opens a food bank; a full-time lawyer, Mauro Montoya, Esq., comes aboard to help people with HIV/AIDS handle legal issues, such as wills, power of attorney and disability entitlements.

In February, Whitman-Walker launches a Northern Virginia Project to provide services to people with AIDS in Northern Virginia.

The Sunnye Sherman AIDS Education Program opened with a $180,000 HIV prevention grant from the District government.

Whitman-Walker moves into a larger facility at 14th & S Streets, NW. 

AZT is approved as the first treatment for HIV.

In September, Whitman-Walker begins to offer dental care, making it one of three dental clinics for people with HIV in the nation.

The Clinic opens the Scott Harper House for gay men and lesbians in recovery from substance abuse.

The Clinic holds its first AIDS Walk Washington.

The Clinic dedicates its Project NOVAA office in Arlington, which provides case management and education. The Clinic also opens a short-term, interim care facility in DC.

In April, the main facility expands once more, allowing the food bank to move on-site. Whitman-Walker also becomes part of the National Institute of Health's AIDS Clinical Trials Program Group.

In February, Whitman-Walker receives $142,000 from the American Foundation for AIDS Research to increase research studies as part of AmFAR's clinical trials network.

Whitman-Walker reaffirms its lesbian and gay health mission by hiring full-time paid staff for the Lesbian Services and Mental Health Services programs.

In December, the Clinic dedicates the Stewart B. McKinney House, its first house specifically for families with HIV.

Congress passes the Ryan White CARE Act, providing federal funds that allow Whitman-Walker Clinic to add transportation service, interpreting, a Spanish-speaking physician and a full-time dentist.

The Clinic dedicates a new outpatient care center for people with AIDS, the Bill Austin Day Treatment and Care Center. First lady Barbara Bush attends the event.

The Clinic’s volunteers receive President Bush's Points of Light Award.

More than 20,000 walkers make AIDS Walk Washington the city's first $1 million AIDS fund-raiser. Donations through the United Way/Combined Federal Campaign top $1 million for the first time.

Whitman-Walker Clinic of Suburban Maryland opens in Hyattsville.

The first reports of successful combination drug treatments for AIDS are published.

In April, the Max Robinson Center is dedicated in Southeast Washington. In July, the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center is constructed to offer expanded services, including an eye care center, x-ray facilities, an expanded laboratory, a new dental facility and 12 examination rooms.

The Northern Virginia AIDS Project of Whitman-Walker Clinic expands and is renamed Whitman-Walker Clinic of Northern Virginia.

President Clinton holds the first White House AIDS Summit. The Food and Drug Administration approves 3TC, an anti-HIV drug, and the first protease inhibitor, Saquinavir. Measuring viral load proves a significant predictor of HIV disease progression.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, National AIDS Policy Director Patsy Fleming and French first lady Bernadette Chirac visit the Clinic to participate in a roundtable discussion with women in the Women's Interagency HIV Study. 

In June, the first Washington, DC, AIDS Ride raises a total of $4.5 million for several AIDS organizations, including Whitman-Walker Clinic.

The Washington AIDS Partnership awards Whitman-Walker a grant to begin a needle exchange program. The Clinic launches one the following year.

In February, the Clinic replaces the traditional blood-based testing with a breakthrough oral HIV test, which is just as effective as blood tests.

Whitman-Walker Clinic receives a bequest from the estate of Dr. Richard Karpawich. This $2 million becomes the foundation of the Clinic's endowment.

The Washington AIDS Partnership awards WWC a $42,000 grant to expand the Clinic's needle exchange program. Later this year, Congress passes a District budget with restrictions on federal funding for organizations conducting needle exchange programs. In response, an independent corporation is incorporated to fill the need: Prevention Works Inc.

The National AIDS Marathon Training Program is launched and raises $2 million for the Clinic.

Jim Graham resigns as executive director to serve on the DC City Council.

The counseling and testing program goes mobile with an RV that provides testing at health fairs, festivals and bars.

Whitman-Walker is awarded $1.8 million to pay for increasing drug costs through the Pharmacy Drug Assistance Program. The Clinic also begins to accept Medicaid.

A. Cornelius Baker is appointed executive director of the clinic.

The Northwest site is renovated to place nearly all client services at the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center.

Whitman-Walker’s Northern Virginia site dedicates the Healing Garden and Labyrinth.

Whitman-Walker partners with 13 other HIV/AIDS service organizations to promote a national education and awareness campaign: “20 Years of AIDS is Enough.” Public service announcements are broadcast on 225 TV stations and 260 radio stations around the country.

The Clinic operates the DC Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS Information Line in Spanish and English 24 hours a day.

Latino outreach expands with a task force – Spanish Pathways – to ensure that programs and services are serving the Spanish-speaking community. Whitman-Walker also teams with La Clinica del Pueblo in a new Latino outreach program.

Nearly 1,000 people participate in the National AIDS Marathon Training Program and raise $2.5 million for the Clinic.

After a six-year partnership with One in Ten, Whitman-Walker Clinic becomes the sole presenter of Capital Pride.

Financial problems lead to the closing of the Schwartz Housing Program and the transition of all housing clients to other providers.
The CDC and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield help the Clinic observe World AIDS Day by providing funds for two new mobile HIV testing units, one aimed at African-Americans and the other at Latinos.

The National AIDS Marathon program raises $3.4 million for the clinic.

The Lesbian Services Program moves into new space at 1810 14th St., NW.

A. Cornelius Baker resigns as executive director. Roberta Geidner-Antoniotti, the Clinic’s managing director of operations, is tapped as interim executive director.

Whitman-Walker Clinic opens medical and support services for the transgender community.

In June, the Clinic announces that financial difficulties will force it to close several programs, including the food bank and its sites in Virginia and Maryland. The District of Columbia provides a one-time grant of $3.2 million. Governments in Virginia pledge $800,000 to keep Whitman-Walker of Northern Virginia open through December 2006.This outpouring enables the food bank and the Northern Virginia regional center to remain open. However, the Clinic closes the suburban Maryland facility Sept. 30.

In September, the Max Robinson Center receives a $100,000 grant from the Fannie Mae Foundation to continue renovations.

The Clinic unveils a new business model to reduce its dependence on government funding and private donations. The new model expands the clinic’s primary medical care services and strives to bring in more clients with private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.

Donald Blanchon is named the Clinic’s executive director and chief executive officer.

In November, the Clinic is awarded $150,000 by the DC Primary Care Association’s Medical Homes DC initiative to upgrade the Max Robinson Center and begin site planning for an additional clinic in Ward 7.

In January, the staff of the Washington Free Clinic joined Whitman-Walker Clinic and brought many of their clients with them. The new staff allowed Whitman-Walker to provide prenatal, postpartum, neonatal and pediatric care for the first time.

Whitman-Walker was given a “Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike” designation in March by the Bureau of Primary Health Care, part of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. The designation is only awarded to clinics that provide care to medically underserved communities and meet other stringent requirements. The benefits of this status include a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate.

In December, WWC began to implement the use of electronic health records. Once completed, this new system will provide us with faster and more efficient access to our clients’ medical records, allowing us to offer better service.

A $120,000 grant from the DC Bar Foundation allowed the Clinic to create two attorney positions at the Max Robinson Center, the first full time Legal Services staff working in Anacostia. The funding for this grant came from a landmark appropriation by the DC government to increase civil legal services to low-income DC residents, particularly in underserved neighborhoods such as Anacostia.

In January, the Clinic announces several major changes, including the hiring of Dr. Ray Martins as Chief Medical Officer, creation of the Medical Adherence unit to help patients with chronic conditions stick to treatment regimens, closing of food bank and some staff layoffs.

The Clinic facility at 1407 S Street, NW, is sold to pay off longstanding debts and to consolidate all Clinic operations in NW DC under one roof.

Global economic crisis has severe impact on AIDS Walk and other Fall fundraising. Clinic reports $4 million operating loss for the second year in a row.

Clinic announces another round of layoffs in December and announces the closing of the Northern Virginia facility and the BridgeBack program.

Changes announced in December of 2008 lead to a very public and heated debate over Whitman-Walker's future. Though there are allegations of financial mismanagement and of abandoning the LGBT community, an independent review by the law firm Arnold & Porter reveals that these allegations are without merit.

At the same time, the DC Department of Health releases figures that show that three percent of all adults in the District of Columbia have been diagnosed with HIV. An additional three percent are believed infected but undiagnosed.

Attorney General Eric Holder is honored with the Joel A. Toubin Memorial Award at the Going the Extra Mile Legal Services benefit reception.

Despite the controversy, Whitman-Walker begins to see a financial turnaround in the second half of the year. After two consecutive years of $4 million losses, the Clinic posts a loss of only $750,000 for 2009.


After several years of turmoil, Whitman-Walker finally finds itself on more solid footing in 2010, bolstered by increased revenue from third party payments and from pharmacy sales and from the hard decisions made to cut unsustainable programming.

Patient encounters increase by more than 21 percent over 2009.

At the annual spring gala hosted by "Project Runway" alumnus Jack Mackenroth, Miss America Caressa Cameron and POZ Magazine receive the "Partner for Life" awards. POZ Editor in Chief Regan Hofmann is on hand to accept their award.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, receives the Joel A. Toubin Memorial Award at Going the Extra Mile.

PFLAG of Metro DC moves into open office space at the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center.

After years of operating losses, Whitman-Walker posts its first operating gain in 2010. The gain of four percent or nearly $1.1 million is the first gain in a decade.

In early 2011, Whitman-Walker announced that it had finished 2010 in the black, something it had not done in a decade. The two percent operating gain represented the third year in a row of financial progress and reflected a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice for Whitman-Walker staff. Whitman-Walker also saw a 30 percent increase in patients between 2009 and 2010.

In April, Whitman-Walker announced that it was changing its name to “Whitman-Walker Health” and unveiled a new logo and website. The change best emphasizes who Whitman-Walker is now: a full-service, best-in-class health center.

The new name and logo gave Whitman-Walker the chance to educate the metro DC community about the full range of health care services offered. The word ‘Health’ best conveys WWH’s current and future role in the community as a health center and reflects its unwavering commitment to the highest quality of care for its patients. Whitman-Walker also adopted a new logo for the first time in more than two decades.

In March 2012, Whitman-Walker announced that 2011 had been a highly successful year:
  • A $2.6 million operating gain, the second year in a row with a gain, marking a nearly $7 million turnaround since 2007's $4+ million loss.
  • Whitman-Walker cared for 15,515 individuals, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2010. The patient base has nearly doubled since Whitman-Walker began the process to become a community health center in 2006.
  • One in seven patients in 2011 lived in Wards Seven and Eight--a 68 percent increase over 2010.
  • The number of LGB patients has increased by 77 percent since 2006.
  • The number of transgender patients has increased by 185 percent since 2006.
  • WWH administered more than 10,600 HIV tests in 2011, nine percent of all HIV tests administered in the District of Columbia, with 174 new HIV diagnoses.
Whitman-Walker marked the International AIDS Conference in July 2012 with "Return to Lisner," a community forum on HIV/AIDS held at the site of DC's first AIDS forum on April 4, 1983, and also organized by Whitman-Walker. The July 24 forum drew hundreds to the Lisner Auditorium to hear speakers including Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White.

Whitman-Walker announced the opening of a new medical home in 2014. A new building under construction at 1525 14th Street, about two blocks south of the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, will be leased to Whitman-Walker beginning in mid-2014. The new building will have nearly 43,000 square feet of space for expanded and new health care services.

In March, WWH announced that it had ended 2012 with an unaudited $2.4 million surplus, the third year in a row it had finished a year in the black financially. It also ended with 2012 with high patient satisfaction rates and high quality of care indicators.

Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization, a DC-based nonprofit focused on the health care needs of lesbians and bisexual women, joined Whitman-Walker Health in a collaboration in June of 2013. All of Mautner Project's programs and employees became a part of Whitman-Walker, allowing Mautner's existing clients greater access to more health care services.

In November, Whitman-Walker Health receives a full Federally Qualified Health Center designation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The designation brings financial benefits through an annual operations grant and reduced costs for malpractice insurance. It also makes WWH eligible for future federal grants given to FQHCs.

Who Were "Whitman" and "Walker?"