Desert AIDS Project
(760) 323-2118

Desert AIDS Project Community Action Newsletter


In This Issue

Positive Life Series: Gene therapy approaches to HIV cure

Learn the latest information on gene therapy and how it could be used to find a cure. Speakers will be Dr. Ron Mitsuyasu from UCLA, and HIV activist Matt Sharp. Sinatra Auditorium, Desert Regional Medical Center (Tachevah and Miraleste). Light supper at 6:00 PM, program begins at 6:30 PM. ASL provided. Sponsored by Jewish Family Service of the Desert. Email questions to  but RSVP is NOT required.

Back to Top

Larry Gibson, HIV activist, to be honored tomorrow

Dennis and LarryFriends of long-time Palm Springs resident Larry Gibson, who died on February 28, are invited to join his husband Dennis Golay at a memorial service at 11:00 AM on Friday, April 4 at St. Paul in the Desert Church, 125 W. El Alameda in Palm Springs. Immediately following the service, everyone who knew Larry is invited to dedicate a bench in his honor at Desert AIDS Project’s campus at the intersection of Vista Chino and Sunrise Way. Guests are also invited to stay after the dedication for a light lunch and to share memories of Larry. (jl)

Meningitis vaccines available at D.A.P.

VaccineLos Angeles County Public Health is investigating a potential cluster of meningococcal disease (IMD) among MSM (men sexually active with men). In the past three months, eight IMD cases have been reported, four among MSM, including three men who were HIV-positive. Two of those died. As a precaution, D.A.P. is offering free meningococcal vaccine to anyone, regardless of HIV status, who regularly has close or intimate contact with multiple partners. The LA County health alert also recommends vaccination for MSM who seek partners through computer/smartphone apps, especially those who share  cigarettes, marijuana or illegal drugs. “Given our proximity to LA and the White Party soon here in Palm Springs, we want to do everything we can to protect our local population,” said D.A.P. CEO David Brinkman. “Although we don’t think there is reason for panic, we hope our local population will protect themselves.” Appointments are strongly advised: call 760.992.0488 or 760.992.0452. You may also walk in at the D.A.P. medical clinic between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM and ask for the vaccine. The first batch will be at D.A.P. on Monday, April 14. (sb)

D.A.P. seeks volunteer hair-cutter

We have lost one of our volunteer hair-cutters and need a replacement. If you are, or know of, a good, dependable hair-cutter, barber, or cosmetologist who is willing to donate some time on first and third Fridays each month to provide free haircuts to D.A.P. clients, please let Ray Robertson know (see his contact information below). (jl)

Back to Top

More evidence: HIV-positive men at increased risk for heart disease

The buildup of soft plaque in arteries that nourish the heart is more common and extensive in HIV-infected men than HIV-uninfected men, independent of established cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to a new study by National Institutes of Health. The findings suggest that those with HIV are therefore at greater risk for heart attack. Because researchers examined coronary artery plaque at a single point in time, further research is needed to determine whether that plaque in HIV-positive men is less likely to harden over time, or whether these men simply develop greater amounts of soft plaque. Read more here. (jl)

San Francisco adopts nation?s first drug pricing measure

drug pricing measuresThe Board of Supervisors for the County of San Francisco made history recently when, in a unanimous 9 - 0 vote (with two Supervisors not present), it adopted a resolution intended to bring transparency to, and reduce overall pricing of prescription medications in San Francisco. Introduced by Board President David Chiu and cosponsored by Supervisors Scott Weiner and David Campos, the resolution seeks to bring transparency to pricing/purchasing of medications by government agencies — by far the largest purchaser of drugs. The resolution follows passage of Proposition D, a ballot measure approved by San Francisco voters that requires city and county officials to “use all available opportunities to reduce the City’s cost of prescription drugs." Hopefully this is a sign of things to come! Read more here. (jl)

Beyond "poz" or "neg": five HIV-statuses?

With most HIV patients on ART and hopefully, with undetectable viral loads, is it time to rethink the the usual HIV-positive or negative status categories we've used for nearly 30 years? Is HIV status now more complicated? What do you say if someone asks if you're "clean?" The rules of "serosorting" are changing rapidly these days in light of quick dating and hook-up apps. Click here to catch up with the latest dialogue. (sb)

Back to Top

First out, gay, HIV-positive, African-American to lead National AIDS Policy Office

Douglas M. Brooks and President ObamaPresident Obama recently announced that that the first out gay African American man living with HIV — the much respected Douglas M. Brooks — will lead the Office of National AIDS Policy. “Douglas’ policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach,” said the president. HIV/AIDS organizations from around the country have cheered the president's announcement. Read more here. (jl)

Protecting consumers when Medicare Advantage drop doctors

dropping doctorsFederal officials are considering new Medicare Advantage rules to help protect seniors when insurers make significant reductions to networks of doctors and other health care providers. The proposals follow UnitedHealthcare's decision to drop thousands of doctors from its Medicare Advantage plans in at least 10 states last fall. Officials say that terminations only a few weeks before Medicare's Dec. 7 enrollment deadline may not have given seniors enough time to find new doctors, choose a different plan or rejoin traditional Medicare, which does not restrict beneficiaries to a limited network of providers. Read more here. (jl)

Back to Top

Advocacy and online petitions: Do they work?
by John Lewis

Every so often you'll see articles in our Law & Advocacy section asking you to sign a petition, write a letter or call your representative. Online petitions and advocacy have become increasingly popular as more of us use the internet on a daily basis. These online methods provide a relatively easy way -- a couple of clicks, your name and zip-code are usually all that's needed -- to support a cause or send a message. Since it is so simple and easy, one may ask...can it be effective? There has been an ongoing discussion, online of course, about this, and as usual, differing opinions. Those who think this type of activity is ineffective have described it as "slacktivism," suggesting that activism is worthless if it doesn't require considerable effort. Supporters view the use of online activism as a valuable tool indicating that even the simple act of signing an online petition can make people more aware and may even cause them to take further action after signing the petition. Here is an article suggesting various reason why these online petitions work. It also provides several examples of success stories. Your editor supports the use of online petitions and will continue to offer you the opportunity to advocate for causes that impact you with just a few strokes on your keyboard.

Back to Top

Twenty things you can do to prepare before next earthquake

Earthquake PrepEarthquakes have been in the news over the past few weeks. Since we live in a very seismically active region, this is a good time for us all to check our earthquake preparedness kits and be sure we are ready...just in case. Here are 20 suggestions from the U.S. Geological Survey on how to prepare for the next quake. (jl)

Back to Top

Keep track of healthcare reform changes

If you are on Medicare, it's important to keep track of ongoing changes in coverage and payment options.  Most importantly, the "donut hole" of Medicare Part D drug plan co-pays begins to close this year (see below).  Regardless of your current insurance situation, click here for a government website that provides some guidance regarding Medicare, Medicaid and other possible insurance options (albeit limited) for those living with disabilities and/or chronic health issues (pay particular attention to the Medicare and Timeline tabs).  And click here for an even more detailed summary.  (sb) 

ADAP may pay Medicare Part D premium

ADAP-eligible clients who have to purchase Part D prescription drug coverage may qualify to have their Part D premium paid by the State of California. Follow this link to the Part D Premium Payment Program Application. You can also call the State of California at 916.449.5900 for more information.  (jl) 

Help with Medicare

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers one-on-one counseling and assistance to people with Medicare and their families.  This includes information about original Medicare, Medicare Health Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, Medicare Supplemental policies and Long-term Care Insurance.  The California Department of Aging (CDA) is responsible for statewide administration of SHIP, which is delivered through the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP).  HICAP services can be accessed via a toll-free line at 800.434.0222.  The local HICAP counselor is located at the Mizell Center in Palm Springs and can be reached at 760.323.5689.  Follow this link for more information. 

Help paying for prescription medications

Among the resources available to HIV-positive people to help pay for prescription medications is NeedyMeds. The mission of NeedyMeds is to make information about assistance programs available to low-income patients and their advocates at no cost.  Go  to www.needymeds.org, look up the  medications you need and you'll be directed to the patient assistance program website for that manufacturer.  The site  also offers a free drug discount card that is accepted at more than 62,000 pharmacies.  If you are having trouble paying for your medications this site is worth a look!  (jl) (sb) 

Help paying for private health insurance premiums

If you or someone you are close to is HIV positive and paying for private health insurance, there may be help in paying premiums. The California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS (OA) administers the Health Insurance Premium Payment (OA-HIPP) Program.  OA has expanded OA-HIPP to make this program available to more individuals with health insurance who are at risk of losing it, and to individuals currently without health insurance who would like to purchase it.  You do NOT need to be a D.A.P. client to access OA-HIPP.  Follow this link to see if you qualify, and also check out the above links in the Healthcare reforms article. (jl) (sb)  

Quest Diagnostics website

Riverside County Healthcare (RCHC) Lab services are provided at both Riverside County Regional Medical Center (RCRMC) in Moreno Valley and Quest Diagnostics.  All former LabCorps patients are now served at Quest.  Click here or above for the Quest website: locations, hours and to make an appointment. 

Medically Indigent Services Program (MISP) & AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)

For those who qualify, medical care and help paying for your medications are available through the MISP and ADAP programs.* Find out if you qualify: schedule an appointment by calling the numbers below. You can schedule your MISP and ADAP appointments together for Moreno Valley office ONLY. Call no sooner than four weeks before your ADAP qualifying expiration date (usually around your birthday). If you qualify for ADAP only, the local ADAP office is right across the driveway, south of D.A.P., at the Palm Springs Family Care Center. Specify the Palm Springs office when you call. Here are the numbers:

877.501.5085 - toll free
951.486.5375 - English
951.486.5400 - Spanish
951.486.4635 - fax

*NOTICE: Faxed MISP applications can get lost in the process. Many people who have faxed their application have had to re-apply later. It's best to apply in person in Moreno Valley, and get a "receipt of application", and use that as proof that you applied to avoid uninterrupted services with your D.A.P. medical doctor visits.

D.A.P. contact information

The Desert AIDS Project local phone number is 760.323.2118. The toll-free phone number is 866.331.3344 and the website is desertaidsproject.org.

DAPCAN back issues always available online

Need another look at something you read in DAPCAN? Find past issues online by clicking this link. As always, you can also read the most current edition of DAPCAN on the D.A.P. website at www.desertaidsproject.org/newsletter

D.A.P. holiday closings for 2014

January 20 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 17 — Presidents' Day
March 31 — Cesar Chavez Day
May 26 — Memorial Day
July 4 — Independence Day
September 1 — Labor Day
October 13 — Columbus Day
November 27-28 — Thanksgiving
December 25-26 — Christmas

Call 211 for essential human services in Riverside County

2-1-1 is a toll-free service for residents looking for information about essential human services such as affordable housing, food pantries, help for an aging parent, free or low cost health services, addiction prevention programs, employment, support groups, volunteer opportunities, and 1,700 additional services! (jl)

Back to Top

Your annual ADAP/MISP appointment

For those who meet income eligibility requirements, medical care and help paying for medications may be available through state MISP and ADAP programs. To qualify: call the numbers below and schedule an appointment. (You can schedule your MISP and ADAP appointments together for Moreno Valley office ONLY.) Call no sooner than four weeks before your ADAP qualifying expiration date (usually around your birthday). If you qualify for ADAP only, the local ADAP office across the driveway, south of D.A.P., at the Palm Springs Family Care Center. Specify the Palm Springs office when you call and make sure you have all documents required! Delays can cause lapses in drug coverage.

877.501.5085 - toll free 951.486.5375 - English
951.486.5400 - Spanish/espanol 951.486.4635 - fax

Unfortunately, it's sometimes difficult to get through to make appointments by phone. We were recently notified that there is now an individual at Window 2 next door at the Palm Springs Family Care Center that can schedule appointments and process demographics changes. If it is more convenient, you can walk next door to schedule your MISP/ADAP appointment in person. (jl)

Back to Top

Let Disability.gov guide you to information you need

Are you looking for information about how much work you need to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, or how to apply for benefits? Are you searching for an affordable place to live, or want to find ways to make your home accessible? Do you need help finding a job, or want to learn how working might affect your Social Security disability payments? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then check out these guides on Disability.gov:

Disability.gov's guides answer many of the most frequently asked questions about eligibility for disability benefits, locating job training services, as well as housing assistance programs for individuals with disabilities. In addition, Disability.gov’s Guide to Getting Help in Your Community has information about programs and organizations near you that provide other services and supports, including health care, temporary financial assistance for families, and help paying home heating bills. (jl)

Back to Top

Get Social Security forms online

A reminder that starting in February, form requests for proofs of income and Social Security numbers will not be available at local Social Security offices as in the past. Now you must go online for those documents at socialsecurity.gov or call 800.772.1213. Remember that the forms can be printed out immediately but phone requests will take approximately seven days to receive by mail. You need these forms not only for Social Security, but also to apply at D.A.P., for ADAP and MediCAL, most updates and other insurance and eligibility requirements. If you have no computer, you may use the computer lab at D.A.P. and print your forms there. (sb)

Back to Top

New Fact Sheets available to help with ACA questions

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released a series of easy-to-understand consumer fact sheets for those who are enrolling or have newly enrolled in healthcare plans through the ACA marketplace. A list of topics, with links to the fact sheets, is available here. (ej)

Back to Top