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Our History

Our work began in 1987 as the Down East AIDS Network, created in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in rural Down East Maine. A couple of filing cabinets and a handful of immensely passionate people provided comfort and helped clients navigate the systems of health care and social assistance.


With the passage of the Ryan White Cares Act in 1990, the agency received the support it needed to address the epidemic more effectively. The Down East AIDS Network became a vital support for the region’s HIV positive population, providing case management and social support. Over time, the organization came to provide invaluable prevention services, including education and HIV testing, followed later by syringe services.

In 2011, the Board of the Down East AIDS Network began the process of overhauling the agency’s mission and vision. The board recognized that the communities they served all had a history of marginalization. These communities experienced a multitude of health disparities beyond the incidence of HIV. The real issue was not HIV or any other health disparities, but the marginalization of communities itself. 

In 2013, the Down East AIDS Network adopted the Eastern Maine AIDS Network, and Health Equity Alliance was created. HEAL has developed into a regional health justice organization, that serves communities throughout Northern and Central Maine.


Today HEAL works closely with marginalized communities throughout Maine, through programs advancing the health and well-being of people living with HIV, people who use drugs, the LGBTQ+ community, and all others that need our care. Our work includes sexual health and wellness services, HIV+ care and case management, a harm reduction program and more.


For 35 years we have worked to better the lives of our community members, and we hope you join us in creating our history in all the years to come!

  • How can I get involved in HEAL's mission?
    From donating or volunteering, to signing up for our newsletter or attending our events, there are lots of ways to get involved at HEAL!
  • What sets HEAL apart from other organizations?
    While there are lots of community organizations that do incredible work, HEAL is set apart by operating at the intersection of HIV+ care, harm reduction, and sexual wellness. By taking this multi-level approach of reducing harm and increasing wellness, we are able to not only empower individuals to be in control of their health, but also create lasting change at the community level.
  • What is "Health Equity"?"
    "Health equity is the principle underlying a commitment to reduce—and, ultimately, eliminate—disparities in health and in its determinants, including social determinants. Pursuing health equity means striving for the highest possible standard of health for all people and giving special attention to the needs of those at greatest risk of poor health, based on social conditions." Source: What Are Health Disparities and Health Equity? We Need to Be Clear Paula Braveman, MD, MPH
  • Where does Health Equity Alliance get its funding?
    We are funded through a combination of state and federal funding, grants, and private donations. For more information on how a specific program is funded, or to support one of our programs, please contact us!
  • Is your organization a 501(c)(3)?
    Yes! HEAL became a 501(c)(3) in 1987!
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