KTTU "In Focus," Sunday, 6/20/10, 10:30 AM & KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," Sunday, 7/4/10, 7:30 AM

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Scott Blades, Executive Director,and Taina Compagnet, Director, CarePartner Program, Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network. In Arizona, 257 new AIDS cases and 542 new cases of HIV were reported in 2006.  Ion Pima County, 1,130 AIDS cases and 1,068 HIV cases were reported in 2006.

Blades says the annual rate of AIDS diagnosis in the state of Arizona is roughly 60 percent of the national rate.  He says the significant thing about the statistics is that they reflect people “living” with the virus...not the death rate.  He says people are living years longer due to new medical treatments, but the HIV infection rate is still rising each year. 

Compagnet says medical treatments are expensive and often have unpleasant side effects and there is still a “stigma” attached to having the virus. aShe says part of TIHAN’s mission is to see that HIV/AIDS patients have access to all the services available in the community.  She says TIHAN acts as an “advocate” for those affected by HIV/AIDS.  She says CareTeams are made up of several volunteers who are assigned to one CarePartner, a person who is living with HIV or AIDS, to meet with and support the CarePartner.  The support could include anything from friendly visits to errands and shopping.

Blades says TIHAN is supported entirely by private contributions.  No public funding is ever sought.  He says there are currently 39 congregations in Tucson that are participating in TIHAN.  He says there are many more congregations who are not but should be.