Where We Started-Our History

In 1989, Community Research Initiative of New England, Inc. (CRI) was co-founded by a group of advocates and providers which included current Executive Director Julie K. Marston, MPH, and former CRI Research Director, Cal Cohen, MD, MSc. The group met at Club Café to take action on the devastating health issue that was taking the lives of their friends and family members. This was the first organizing meeting for CRI.

When CRI was established, AZT was the only antiretroviral drug available to people living with HIV/AIDS. Today, there are more than 45 FDA-approved HIV antiretroviral drugs, and CRI’s clinical research has contributed to the FDA’s approval of nearly all of them, including the ATLAS trials to test the recently FDA-approved treatment of Cabenuva. Cabenuva is now approved for administration every four weeks and every eight weeks. CRI was the only site in New England selected to participate in these groundbreaking trials.

As part of CRI’s mission to give people living with HIV access to the highest-quality treatments, CRI has operated the Massachusetts HIV Drug Assistance Program (HDAP) since 1990. HDAP is a program of the Office of HIV/AIDS of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and currently enrolls more than 8,700 clients, ensuring that medications and health insurance are available to HIV-positive individuals in need across Massachusetts.

Expanding Services

In 2013, CRI began addressing another urgent need in the HIV community: effective treatment of hepatitis C (HCV). Building on 25 years of HIV research experience, CRI participated in several landmark trials Hepatitis C treatment  which  showed that most people, including those with HIV, can be cured of HCV in as little as eight weeks with a single pill, taken once a day.

This paved the way for CRI to expand its research, programming and compassionate care to help people affected by other infectious diseases.

A Helping Hand

Due to increasing complexities in navigating insurance, the BRIDGE (Benefits Resources Infectious Disease Guidance and Engagement) team was created in 2014 as an integral part of our Drug Assistance programs. BRIDGE offers hands-on guidance navigating insurance, assistance with enrollment, and help paying for health insurance premiums through our Comprehensive Health Insurance Initiative (CHII), ensuring that people living with HIV  can get—and keep—comprehensive health coverage and avoid gaps in treatment and care.

In 2016, CRI began two pilot initiatives: the PrEP Drug Assistance Program (PrEPDAP) and the TB Drug Assistance Program (TBDAP), both funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. PrEPDAP assists those who are HIV-negative and in need of pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent new HIV infections; TBDAP assists state residents with tuberculosis who need assistance paying for treatment access their medication in an affordable manner.

Where We Are Headed Next

Over the years, we have done extraordinary work together and led the fight against HIV and other infectious diseases, making Massachusetts a healthier and more equitable place for all its residents. Our research and the medications we’ve helped people obtain have been groundbreaking—and we’ve changed countless lives for the better.

As our organization has grown, our areas of focus—and our story—have changed, and we needed to update how we present ourselves. To more deeply engage our clients, case managers, partners, and donors—and to connect with new ones—we embarked on a process to evolve a clearer, more accurate, and more welcoming identity. Our updated identity, which includes changing our name to Community Resource Initiative, brings our verbal and visual communications in line with who we are today. It also helps us better connect with those we serve, elevate our value, and bring forward the ongoing relevance and urgency of our work.

As Community Resource Initiative, we will continue to administer all of our same Drug Assistance Programs and support services, and research. We remain dedicated, as always, to connecting people who are confronting HIV, TB, and other infectious diseases with essential medication, insurance, and support. We are continuing to operate important clinical research studies.

Community Resource Initiative is part of my life, and always will be part of my life.

They allowed me to survive the ups and downs of my life, and I’ll never forget it. The love and compassion and support they have for people here who are seeking treatment – it’s phenomenal. We’re family.

Longtime CRI study participant

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Who we are

Community Resource Initiative’s Staff, Board and Committee members play a critical role in the short-term and long-term success that will allow our mission to be achieved.

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Community Resource Initiative is an equal opportunity employer all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or any other class protected by federal or state law (EEO/AA).

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