In 1985, a few concerned citizens decided to make a difference in the Tucson community’s response to HIV & AIDS. They formed the Tucson AIDS Project (TAP), followed shortly by the Shanti Foundation. In 1987, a group of people living with HIV/AIDS incorporated their grassroots advocacy efforts into the People with AIDS Coalition of Tucson, PACT for Life.
Working in concert, the three agencies created an array of services for people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS, meeting basic needs as well as more sophisticated ones, while simultaneously providing information and skill-building programs to help others prevent further infection.
In 1997, again responding to the needs of their clients and community, PACT, Shanti, and TAP merged under the name Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) creating one of the largest nonprofit consolidations in the history of Pima County. SAAF continues the traditions of PACT, Shanti, and TAP, providing direct services and programs in safe, supportive environments that enhance the quality of life for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS; assisting people in avoiding HIV infection; and empowering people to lead healthy, productive lives. At the heart of our mission is the conviction that people living with HIV/AIDS have the right to determine what services they require and that stigma is a problem affecting us all.
In 2014, SAAF took over several initiatives from Wingspan, formerly southern Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community center. This has helped to broaden SAAF’s scope of services which now include the Eon Youth Lounge & Anti-Violence Programs. SAAF changed it’s mission to more accurately reflect our expanded reach. SAAF’s new mission, to cultivate a healthy & stigma-free society through transformative action, more accurately reflects the work SAAF does in our community.
In 2015, SAAF celebrated 30 years of providing services and continues to be the only community-based organization in southern Arizona providing case management and ancillary support services for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families; culturally appropriate prevention and education programs to reduce the rate of infection; & LGBTQ community outreach & engagement.