TUCSON GIVING: TUCSON INTERFAITH HIV/AIDS NETWORK

She helps people living with AIDS

2013-05-26T00:00:00Z She helps people living with AIDSLoni Nannini Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Ana "Bertie" Lozano considers herself doubly blessed: The first time for building a successful business and the second for the relationships she has built while giving back to the community through organizations such as the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network, or TIHAN.

"I want to support the community, so I budget 10 percent, no matter what, to give back to charitable causes. Everything you give comes back to you. It really does," said Lozano, the owner of Arizona Medical Transport.

Her company is the title sponsor of Treasures for TIHAN, the nonprofit's signature fundraiser that will be held June 15 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tucson-Reid Park.

Lozano, who has a long history as an HIV educator and program manager with El Rio Health Center and the Pima County Health Department, became involved with TIHAN nearly 20 years ago. Shortly thereafter she joined the board of directors and helped organize the first Treasures for TIHAN.

Within a few years she and a close friend, Myron Morris, helped expand the small auction into an event that raised $60,000 in one evening to further TIHAN's mission of providing compassionate, non-medical care to people living with HIV and AIDS.

Lozano said she is gratified to take her support to another level as the title sponsor of the fundraiser.

She and TIHAN Executive Director Scott Blades hope that her efforts will help bring awareness to the fact that while changes in HIV treatment and management have resulted in improved quality of life and long-term prognoses for many living with the disease, HIV rates of infection have not decreased in the past few years.

"There are 60,000 new infections in the U.S. every year, and that number is constant and not decreasing like we need it to," Blades said. "But the good news is that the number of people who are dying is much lower than it once was. Part of the success of the treatments is that HIV has gone off the radar for lots of people. They say, 'Didn't we cure that?' It is not cured yet, and there is a generation of kids that need HIV education so they don't become infected."

TIHAN, a coalition of 48 congregations of different faith communities, has programs to educate clergy and laity and provides outreach through CareTeams, which provide support services such as transportation, in-home assistance, meals and social and emotional support for CarePartners (those living with HIV/AIDS).

Additionally, TIHAN's Poz Cafe provides monthly lunch and social programs as well as CarePackages with toiletries, clothing and other items. Link specialists facilitate services for CarePartners and their families and friends, helping them access resources through TIHAN and other local agencies.

TIHAN has a new focus of increasing food literacy and financial literacy to help CarePartners, many of whom live below the federal poverty level on fixed incomes, stretch their budgets and plan for the future.

A new series of classes, "Living Well With HIV," aims to emphasize long-term empowerment and help educate people on topics such as re-entering the workforce and patients taking control of their lives.

"HIV is something people can live with for hopefully at least 30 years, and hopefully before then there will be a cure … these classes will empower people with resources and peer support and education," Blades said. "We can help people find strength and resilience within themselves and remind them that HIV doesn't have to be a barrier to keep them from their dreams."

After realizing many of her own dreams through her successful business, Lozano is more determined than ever to build on the goodwill she said is perpetuated by clients, friends and colleagues. In her professional endeavors as well as personal and volunteer efforts, she cherishes personal contact.

"My parents were migrant farm workers and stressed that no matter how successful you become in this life, we are all here to be of service to each other," she said.

"I want to support the community, so I budget 10 percent, no matter what, to give back to charitable causes. Everything you give comes back to you. It really does."

Ana "Bertie" Lozano

owner of Arizona Medical Transport

If You Go

• What: 16th Annual Treasures for TIHAN.

• When: 6 p.m. June 15

• Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tucson-Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way,

• Cost: $65 per person in advance.

• The details: Festivities include a beach party theme with hors d'oeuvres, live music, a no-host bar and live and silent auctions featuring about 450 items including gift certificates for local restaurants, art, jewelry, fashion and beauty items, golf and outdoors, home and garden, health and healing, and vacations to Santa Fe, Hawaii, a Nantucket beach cottage, Mexico and two round-trip airfares on Alaska Airlines.

• Auction and raffles: An online auction featuring 150 items will run June 1-10 at www.tihan.org. A raffle featuring a $1,000 cash prize will also be held. Tickets are $5 each, five for $20 or 15 for $50 and you need not be present to win.

• Tickets: For raffle tickets, event tickets or more information go to www.tihan.org or call 299-6647.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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