Fenway Health




For People, Not For Profit: A Historyof Fenway Health’s First Forty Years

Looking for a summer reading suggestion? For People, Not For Profit: A History of Fenway Health’s First Forty Years by Thomas Martorelli has just been published.  If you’re looking to learn more about Fenway, the community health center movement, our community’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the evolving field of LGBT health, then this book is for you.

A former Chair of Fenway’s Board of Directors, Tom spent nearly two years interviewing people from across Fenway’s forty year history, digging through our archives and putting pen to paper to produce his history of our first forty years. Copies can be purchased at BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com and e-book versions will soon be available.

   For People, Not For Profit: A Historyof Fenway Health's Firs


Back to top


Motivated by the belief that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, politically active Northeastern University students open a one-day-a-week drop-in center in the basement of a building owned by the Christian Science Church.

The center is staffed by volunteer medical students dedicated to serving the diverse Fenway neighborhood — a neighborhood that includes many seniors, gays, low-income residents, and students. Reflecting this mission, the founders name the center Fenway Community Health Center.

To accommodate an increase in demand for services, the Center moves into a larger space in the basement of 16 Haviland Street.  Cost of a patient visit: 50 cents or “whatever you can afford to pay.”  Fenway incorporates as a freestanding health center and elects a volunteer governing board.  Three separate collectives take root at Fenway Community Health Center: Women’s Collective, Gay Men’s Collective, Elders’ Collective

Patient visit total:
Number of paid staff: 10

Fenway Community Health Center conducts anonymous STD testing at gay bathhouses in Boston as part of a collaborative effort with the Department of Public Health to reduce the spread of STDs and hepatitis. First paid medical director hired.

Fenway Community Health Center is fully licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Health care providers in New York and San Francisco begin observing a pattern of cancer-like symptoms among gay men. The national Center for Disease Control names the syndrome Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID).  Fenway opens a laboratory on site.  Volunteering his time, Dr. Ken Mayer initiates the Center’s earliest infectious disease research.  Fenway introduces mental health services as a satellite site for Mass Mental Health.  The New England Conservatory of Music becomes the first area college to contract Fenway’s mental health services for their students. 

Patient visit total: 9,000
Operating budget: $200,000

First official diagnoses of AIDS are made in New York and San Francisco.
Fenway makes the first diagnosis of AIDS in New England.

Fenway’s Board of Directors creates an ad hoc committee charged with developing a series of AIDS Forums to address the medical and psychosocial implications of AIDS. The committee later evolves into the independent AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.

Fenway pioneers the first home-based Alternative Insemination (AI) program in the nation.   Fenway launches AIDS hotline. First Fenway AIDS outreach conducted at Boston’s annual Gay Pride celebration.

Fenway opens anonymous HIV testing program.  Collaborating with Harvard Medical School, Fenway becomes one of the first medical facilities in the US to culture HIV from blood and semen samples.  This project marks the beginning of a long-term collaborative relationship with both the medical school and Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Fenway’s Dr. Ken Mayer begins searching for antibodies to HIV.

Cambridge Women’s Health Collaborative becomes part of Fenway Community Health Center.

Massachusetts bans gays and lesbians from becoming foster parents and the first baby is born from Fenway's Alternative Insemination program.

The AIDS Action Committee incorporates as an autonomous non-profit agency.

Mission statement revised to reflect Fenway’s commitment to the gay and lesbian community.

Patient visit total: 17,842
Operating budget: $890,000

Fenway's second full-time physician is hired.

Fenway is the first medical facility in the state to offer the experimental HIV treatment Aerosol Pentamidine, prior to its approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Fenway's first full-time nurse is hired.

Fenway’s Victim Recovery Project, later known as the Violence Recovery Program (VRP), established. Data collected from the program plays a significant role in efforts to pass the statewide Gay Rights Law and Hate Crimes Statistics Act.

Alternative Insemination program advocates within medical community for broader access to insemination services for single women and lesbians.
Fenway initiates its first Lesbian Health Task Force and first Lesbian Health Day.

Fenway’s Substance Abuse Counseling Program formed.

Gay and Lesbian Helpline established at Fenway.

Holistic health services instituted at Fenway.

Upon completion, Fenway’s garden is dedicated as Goosebump Park a reference to the one-woman show “Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” in honor of Lily Tomlin’s and Jane Wagner’s continued support.

Fenway is one of the first medical facilities in the state to utilize acupuncture as a pain management treatment for people with HIV. Fenway recognized in

The Boston Globe Magazine for organizing the Community Research Initiative (CRI), which will later become an independent agency.

Fenway’s anonymous testing program performs 40% of all anonymous HIV tests in the state.

After completing a successful $4 million building campaign, Fenway moves out of the basement at 16 Haviland Street into a new state-of-the-art facility at 7 Haviland Street.

Fenway’s HIV caseload reaches 500, second in the state only to then Boston City Hospital.

Fenway throws its first annual “Women’s Dinner Party,” a fundraiser for Fenway Women’s Health that will soon become the largest event of its kind in the nation.

Fenway’s Color Me Healthy program initiated to provide HIV education and outreach to men of color.

Lesbian Health Research Subcommittee formed.

Fenway Forums established to train credentialed mental health professionals how to identify and respond to gay, lesbian, and HIV/AIDS health issues.

Alternative Insemination program makes office-based services available to clients.

Lesbian Health Series launched to provide outreach and education to lesbians at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Fenway chosen as one of only eight sites in the nation to conduct HIV vaccine trials, and is the only community health center represented in the group.

Fenway initiates internship program to train health care professionals how to care for the mental health needs of the GLBT community.

Research Department conducts assessments on lesbian and elder gay health needs, and a study on STD transmission between lesbians.

Riders embark on the first Boston to New York AIDSRide, kicking off the largest single AIDS fundraiser in the country.

Boston Conservatory of Music contracts with Fenway to provide primary health care services for its students and employees.

FDA fast-tracks availability of protease inhibitors for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Fenway initiates at-home care program for neighborhood seniors.

Patient visit total: 54,000 (40% are HIV-related)
Operating budget: $8 million

Fenway celebrates 25 years of operation.

Viral load testing offered as a new HIV/AIDS treatment service at Fenway.

Fenway Endowment Fund established.

Fenway institutes the use of acupuncture as a viable practice in the treatment of substance abuse.

Fenway patients who receive free care become automatically eligible for free care from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Fenway increases number of holistic medical providers on staff.

Living Well Series initiated to educate the gay male community about the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

The Russell-Harris medical practice, located in the Back Bay/South End, merges with Fenway Community Health.

Fenway produces first Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health Research Forum in New England.

Fenway provides more than 800 free hepatitis vaccinations to the community.

Fenway holds first annual Audre Lorde Women’s Cancer Awareness Brunch.

Nationally recognized researcher Dr. Judith Bradford joins the Fenway staff as Director of Lesbian Health Research.

Fenway convenes panel of experts to brief members of the press about the historic significance of the US Department of Health and Human Services implementing new objectives related to sexual orientation in their public health plan “Healthy People 2010.”

Fenway launches The Fenway Institute, a national interdisciplinary center dedicated to ensuring cultural competence in health care for the GLBT community through research and evaluation, training and education, and policy and advocacy.  Dr. Ken Mayer and Dr. Judith Bradford named co-chairs of The Fenway Institute.

Total number of full-time physicians: 13

Fenway became the first federally funded partnership with the HIV Prevention Trials Network to study HIV infections in Chennai, India through work with the Y. R. Gaitonde Centre.

The Fenway Men’s Event drew a record 1,500 attendees and sold out for the first time.  More than $250,000 was raised to help support Fenway’s programs and services.

Fenway opens an onsite pharmacy that offers prescription medications to Fenway patients.

In response to legalization of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, Fenway began offering same-sex marriage clinics.  More than 1,000 patients came to Fenway for pre-marital screening appointments.

Fenway launches Transgender Health Program to help provide health care to this often underserved population.

The Fenway Institute completes Phase I of its rectal microbicide acceptablity study for men. The study hopes to provide information on devleoping additional methods to reduce HIV transmissions.

Fenway becomes one of the first organizations nationwide to participate in an experimental preventive vaccine trial for Human Papilloma Virus.

In an effort to help medical providers better understand the unique health care needs of gay and bisexual men, Fenway publishes "Preventing and Managing STDs in MSM: A Toolkit for Clinicians," in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health STD Division.

Fenway Community Health breaks ground in Boston's West Fen's neighborhood for its future home at 1340 Boylston Street. 

The Fenway Institute works with the American College of Physicians to publish The Fenway Guide to LGBT Health, the first American medical textbook to address the specific healthcare needs of LGBT people.

The Fenway Institute is funded by the National Institutes of Health as a Population Research Center on LGBT Health.  Fenway is the first community-based organization to be awarded such a grant.  This also represents an acknowledgment by the federal government of LGBT people as a unique population with specific health risks and disparities.

Fenway's South End practice moves to expanded space on the second floor of The Pledge of Allegiance Building at 142 Berkeley Street and adds women's health providers, Behavioral Health services and a Pharmacy.

Fenway expands its Women's Health department in anticpation of the upcoming move to 1340 Boylston Street.

Fenway shortens its operating name to "Fenway Health" and debuts a new logo.

On March 30, the doors open on Fenway's new 1340 Boylston Street home.  The 10 story, 100,000 square foot facility is the largest building ever constructed by an organization with a specific mission to serve the LGBT community.  The new facility allows Fenway to expand its medical and behavioral health departments and pharmacy and to add family dentistry and eye care services.  In addition, Fenway's Women's Health program is given dedicated space on the building's third floor.

The Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center joins the Fenway Health family on July 1, 2010.  The Borum operates as part of Fenway Health with the mission of serving marginalized and disenfranchised young people, including those who are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender); homeless or living on the streets; struggling with substance use or abuse; sex workers; or living with HIV/AIDS.

In November, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) publishes the results of the iPrex study which shows that pre-exposure use of HIV medications helps protect gay and bisexual men and transgender women from HIV infection. The Fenway Institute, under the leadership of Dr. Ken Mayer, is one of only two United States study sites and Dr. Mayer is one of the authors of the NEJM article on the study. The study involved 2,499 people in 6 countries on four continents and the study findings were some of the most exciting news in the battle against HIV in many years, receiving widespread coverage in the world press.

Fenway reopens former 16 Haviland Street space as Fenway: Sixteen, the new home of Fenway’s HIV Counseling, Testing & Referrals Program, Health Navigation Services, Helplines, and gay and bisexual men’s health programs.

Fenway celebrates 40 years of service to the community.


Fenway receives $3.75 million grant from the federal government to help with expansion of medical and dental services at 1340 Boylston Street.

Fenway President & CEO Steve Boswell appears on CNN International to debate health care policy.

For People, Not For Profit: A History of Fenway Health's First Forty Years, written by former Board Chair, Tom Martorelli, published.

Patient visit total: 102,500
HIV patient total:
Operating budget:
$60 million
Number of paid staff: 400

Back to top

BOSTON, MA 02215

Forgot Password?Register Now

This login and registration
is not for our patient site,
which is online
at MyFenway.org.