Northwest AIDS Foundation

619 3rd Avenue

St. Charles Hotel at 619 3rd Ave
St. Charles Hotel at 619 3rd Ave
Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell onstage during "Chaos Against AIDS," a benefit for the Northwest AIDS Foundation held at the Off Ramp Cafe and Lounge, Seattle, Washington, October 12, 1988
Northwest AIDS Foundation "Can We Talk AIDS" brochure, 1983
Poster, Northwest AIDS Foundation safe-sex campaign, ca. 1986

The Northwest AIDS Foundation began in 1982 or 1983 (reports differ), but it didn’t open an office until 1986, when it moved into Pioneer Square. By then, it was well on its way to addressing multiple goals: raising money to support people living with HIV/AIDS and helping people facing critical health issues untangle the governmental bureaucracy that dictated disability payments. The group also created educational and safe-sex campaigns for gay men, including “Rules of the Road,” which promoted condom use. It was the city’s first safe-sex campaign.

But these were difficult times, heart-crushing times. Not only did community members face the potential deaths of friends and lovers, not to mention their own possible deaths, they also confronted unapologetic homophobia and AIDS hysteria. In the first year the office was open, a Seattle plumbing company, in response to an article printed in a trade journal, refused to send plumbers to unclog the foundation’s sink, for fear a plumber might contract HIV. Robert Rohan, the foundation’s then-president, responded, “What did they think they were going to do, have sex with the sink?”

Sinks aside, NWAF continued to assist those living with HIV/AIDS, even if its actions and attitudes put it in conflict with groups that wanted more radical action, such as the ACT UP – Seattle. But as more LGBTQ+ people found the services, and community, they needed on Capitol Hill, NWAF also made the switch. It relocated in the 1990s to Capitol Hill, on Broadway. The foundation merged with other nonprofits such as the Chicken Soup Brigade and Evergreen Wellness Advocates, and now they’re collectively known as Lifelong.

The space that housed NWAF was for several years a restaurant called Biscuit Bitch, which closed during the coronavirus pandemic. As of October 2022, its windows were boarded up.

Download the App

Visit HistoryLink.Tours in your mobile browser to download our web app!

HistoryLink Tours App

To add this web app to your device, tap the share icon and select Add to Home Screen.

HistoryLink Tours App

To add this web app to your device, tap the overflow button (three vertical dots) and select Add to Home Screen.