The ARC was founded in 1989, enacted under Virginia Code ยง 32.1-11.2. The Center's primary purpose is to provide education to primary care physicians and other health professionals on the care and management of persons with AIDS and other HIV related illnesses, educate and train students on a broad range of HIV issues , provide technical medical materials for the care and management of HIV disease, and facilitate access for HIV infected persons to community resources across the continuum of care.

This has been accomplished by providing programs in the medical school setting and Community, providing the faculty and staff of the medical school with appropriate and up-to-date educational materials to use for instruction, providing medical consultants in the community, and providing access to technical information in the treatment and care of people with HIV/AIDS.