ARCHES’ history is heavily steeped in that of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, providing the first open supports to those of the Queer community affected in the Lethbridge Area. ARCHES was initially formed in 1986 with meetings of concerned individuals including members of the gay community under the name Lethbridge HIV Connection. After a community meeting of representatives of health and social service agencies organized by the Lethbridge Health Unit, the decision to incorporate as a society was made in 1988. With the organization becoming more public & official, most of the gay supporters left as they felt it was not safe for them to be openly associated with an AIDS organization in Lethbridge. For the first several years after incorporation, most of the HIV Connection’s board members were professional people.
This approach has gradually changed, with the organization expanding and becoming truly a community-based organization with significant representation from a variety of communities, including continual support of the Queer community.