The story of the BESTD Clinic is a long history of volunteers providing healthcare services to greater Milwaukee. In the early 1970s, a group of concerned and caring people responded to the rising incidences of sexually transmitted diseases in Milwaukee and the lack of sensitive, accessible resources. Their discussions and encouragement from the Milwaukee Health Department and the Wisconsin Division of Health resulted in the founding of the BESTD Clinic, then known as the Gay People's Union Venereal Disease Clinic (GPU VD Clinic), in October 1974.
Located initially in rented quarters on East St. Paul, in what is now the Third Ward Cafe, and then on Farwell Avenue, the Brady East STD Clinic, Inc., moved to its present facility in 1981. In 1990, Dr. Roger Gremminger, a physician volunteer, board member and building owner, gifted his property equity for the current location.
While traditionally focusing on the diagnosis, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, the BESTD Clinic, because of its entirely volunteer staff, has been flexible and swift to respond to new challenges. In 1983 through 1984, some of the volunteers began preliminary responses to what we now know as a growing epidemic, and formed the Milwaukee AIDS Project as a committee of the clinic.
With the mission of providing unmet or under-provided services, we became one of the early pioneers in HIV antibody testing. Today, the clinic is one of the most active and accessible anonymous testing sites in the State of Wisconsin. Clinic volunteers also initiated outreach clinics for off-site testing. One of the early outreach clinics was done in concert with the Milwaukee Health Department and offered counseling and testing for those at risk to both HIV infection and tuberculosis. The tests performed at the clinic and at outreach sites identify and large number of newly diagnosed persons who are HIV infected.
Our remodeled facility, in addition to being client-friendly, warm, and clinically up-to-date, has retained some it's nineteenth century architectural charm both inside and out. In addition, provision has been made for the clinic's large, donated art collection.
Since 1996, BESTD and STD Specialties Clinic at 3251 N. Holton Street, have cooperated in providing an Early Prevention Program to persons newly diagnosed with HIV infection or those not yet connected to the healthcare system. This program provides physical, medical and diagnostic services in addition to psycho-social assessments and support services, all without cost.
We are grateful to Milwaukee for providing the roots to our birth and for the nurturing and responding people who, without hesitation, offered their help in founding this unique and nationally almost one-of-a-kind healthcare agency. The volunteers, who are the BESTD Clinic, pledge our continuing professional, sensitive and caring service to all who come to us for help and we do so willingly and without charge.
Important Moments in Our History
1974: Gay People's Union opens the "VD Examination Center" in what is now the Third Ward.
1982: The clinic relocates to it's current location on Brady Street and is formerly renamed the Brady Street East STD Clinic.
1984: BESTD forms what will later be known as the Milwaukee AIDS Project to address the outbreak of the newly named AIDS disease affecting primarily gay men.
1986: BESTD converts the Milwaukee AIDS Project in to what is now known as the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) with the help of clinic volunteers Sue Dietz and Ben Johnson, RN.
1994: Locally-programmed "BESTD Clinic Live" runs weekly on Time Warner Cable.
2014: We celebrate our 40th anniversary with the support of community partners, volunteers and supporters.