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The History of Caracole

We’ve been fighting against HIV/AIDS in Greater Cincinnati for more than 35 years.

Founded in 1987, we started as a small, non-medical hospice for people dying of AIDS. Clients were relatively young gay/bisexual men with AIDS. The average lifespan was two years from diagnosis to death.
Caracole House was the first licensed adult care facility in Ohio for people living with HIV/AIDS. It was in this six-bed, home-like atmosphere that volunteers and staff offered around-the-clock company and care to clients, creating an environment in which dignity was assured for those dying of AIDS. Our mission at the time of founding was to provide safe, affordable housing and supportive services for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.
In the mid-1990s with the advent of life-saving drug regimens, clients began living longer, healthier lives which changed their needs and our services, including who we serve. These changes offered Caracole opportunities to better meet needs of people living with HIV/AIDS via expanded, new and innovative programs consistent to our mission.
Today, while treatment and prevention are available, the HIV epidemic has not gone away. It remains a significant humanitarian, public health and economic issue. Until we find a cure, we remain in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
1987
Caracole Founded

Caracole started through the work of a volunteer study committee. Within a year, we had incorporated, chose a name, raised initial funds, hired our first residential director and rented a home for six individuals with AIDS to live in warmth, community and comfort—and die with dignity.

1990s
Housing Programs Expansion

We expanded our services to include transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and supportive services for people living with HIV/AIDS who were unstably housed, at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness. We served more than 170 individuals per year.

2000s
Case Management Added

We began to offer medical case management services in Hamilton County through Ohio Department of Health Ryan White Part B federal HIV care funding. HIV testing was offered onsite through a partner agency, and we moved into our Northside building.

 

2010–2013
Rapid Growth in Services, Area and Staff

Over three years, we increased the number of clients served more than seven-fold from 170 to 1400+ and substantially increased staff levels. We expanded our medical case management services beyond Hamilton County to include seven more Southwest Ohio counties, bringing on staff from our partner agency, StopAIDS. Caracole also secured additional funds to provide tenant-based rental assistance, short-term mortgage and utility assistance, and housing placement assistance. 

2014–2015
Pharmacy Services Introduced and Innovation Grant Awarded

Caracole began 340B mail order pharmacy services to offer co-pay assistance to eligible clients and to provide program income beyond our grants. We also received an Innovations Grant to provide comprehensive, community-based services for people living with HIV who were not yet in medical care and/or had fallen out of care.

2016–2018
HIV Prevention Services Launched

We began to provide HIV prevention services, including HIV/Hepatitis C testing, and sexual health education, which were then expanded to include harm reduction services for people who inject drugs. The Caracole House transitional housing programs with shared rooms closed in 2016, and in 2018 we opened a new site based permanent supportive housing programs with individual apartments for people living with HIV and experiencing chronic homelessness.

2019–2020
Harm Reduction Services Expansion

Caracole partnered with Hamilton County Public Health to offer Cincinnati’s first-site based, evening syringe services program, while expanding HIV prevention services into Butler County and Northern Kentucky. As medical prevention became available, Caracole added PrEP navigation and payment assistance programs services. We embraced U=U messaging for the general community and began a program of graduating long-term clients from active care into stabilization-only services.

2021
New Ending the HIV Epidemic Program Launched

We participated in a national planning program and received funding for the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America program, intensifying outreach to people living with HIV who are newly diagnosed or have fallen out of care. We launched Ohio’s first harm reduction vending machine filled with free safer drug use supplies and information to help reduce the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C, prevent overdoses and promote long-term recovery.

2022
Continuing the Fight

We continue to serve more than 1,500 clients living with HIV and provide more than 1,700 free HIV tests annually in the Greater Cincinnati region.

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