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This Weekend Wrap for March 28th feature …

DAP Logo Weekend Wrap

This Weekend Wrap for March 28th features updates from Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Executive Officer, David Brinkman

We are living in unprecedented times. It’s been two weeks since DAP opened its COVID-19 Triage clinic and put out the first call for community support to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In that time, we've seen over 90 patients in the urgent clinic, screening and treating each one, and testing only those who were sickest.

All week long, we've been sharing updates on our website, Facebook and Instagram pages but in case you missed it, here are some of our top stories.

Clinical & Programming Updates

  • DAP launched Tele-Health services for patients and clients who are not able to come to our campus for care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Monday, patients can access their medical, psychotherapy, and psychiatry healthcare through their smartphones, iPads, or desktop computers.
  • DAP is still welcoming new clients during the COVID-19 health crisis. Services available include:
    • Primary Care

    • Specialty Care for HIV and Hep C

    • Behavioral Healthcare

    • Sexual Health at The DOCK

    • Social Services like case management, food assistance, transportation, housing and home care.

    • COVID-19 Triage Clinic

  • The DOCK, temporarily housed in DAP’s Green Clinic, continued to see patients who have questions about their sexual health, testing for STI's and HIV while our PrEP navigators continued to work with those who want access to the prevention technique.
  • DAP's Social Service and Community Health teams launched home delivery of essential supplies, including food for our most vulnerable home-bound clients ensuring they don't need to leave their home to go to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • DAP created a series of Spanish language videos and blog content to ensure everyone has access to the same life-saving information.
  • DAP's Client Wellness team launched a series of ZOOM meetings to connect clients in recovery to the groups that met at DAP before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Yoga sessions and guest speakers will roll-out next week.
  • DAP has had to re-adjust its operations in the wake of COVID-19. It has meant:
    • Making Telemedicine available to our clients through our MyChart client portal, which will enable them to continue in care if they are required to stay at home.

    • Suspending non-urgent dental appointments at our Dental Clinic, in accordance with the American Dental Association recommended guidelines.

    • Halting housecleaning, cooking and laundry for our Home Health clients, after the California Department of Public Health and other regulatory organizations issued strict guidelines protecting workers.

DAP in the News

Community Updates

Through email and phone calls, we’ve continued to share with you updates from the frontline of our clinical work, having tested our first positive cases and the stories from grateful patients. In response to all of these, nearly 300 of you have answered our call. THANK YOU!  We could not be more grateful. With $300,000 raised we have $1,150,000 left to raise.

Through these calls for your support, I have also received responses of concern asking, “why such a financial emergency?” And “How could a healthcare organization lay off staff in the middle of an emergency?”.

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DAP was forced to close our three Revivals stores and our Dental Clinic foregoing the revenue from each.

  • We've had to cancel our Dining Out for Life fundraiser which raised $360,000, last year alone.

  • With many of our patients being in a high-risk group due to their age, our paid clinical visits and behavioral health clinic visits are down as well.

  • We responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by opening a Triage Clinic to screen, test, and treat respiratory illness.

  • Altogether, we anticipate revenue losses from now through June 30, 2020, of $2.5 million. Hence, we took swift action to stabilize the organization financially so that our core work of serving the 7,000 community members who call DAP their healthcare home remains uninterrupted during and after this crisis is over.

Be assured, our frontline clinical teams remain intact to provide daily care as well as COVID-19 triage services.

If you questions about COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 FAQ's for information in both English and Spanish. If you believe you might be symptomatic or need information about testing, please call our COVID-19 hotline at (760) 992-0407.

David Brinkman
Chief Executive Officer

For growing STI crisis, HIV, HCV and Pov …

Contact: Jack Bunting
jbunting@desertaidsproject.org
(760) 656-8472

At a time when the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports a 30 year high in STIs in California —particularly syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia—Desert AIDS Project (DAP) affirms that in addition to HIV and HCV, these are among the most serious public health issues facing Californians today.

DAP is in a unique position to apply the lessons it has learned over 35 years in HIV prevention, testing and treatment. With the increasing prevalence of Californians suffering from two or more of these infections simultaneously, we must no longer approach HIV, HCV, and STIs as if they belong in separate silos. Nor can we continue to overlook the roles that poverty and social isolation play in this crisis.

To end these epidemics, Californians need:    
   • Routinized education, testing and treatment for all five infections: HIV, HCV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.       
   • Access to ongoing medical and behavioral healthcare, and stable housing.
   • Community and wellness services for psychosocial support to avoid isolation and poor medical treatment adherence.

We represent our community’s voice in state and federal discussions, and constantly looking at new developments, models and funding sources to deploy new efforts in the Coachella Valley. Regardless of access to funding, our commitment to outreach through our community health department enables us to reach at-risk populations.

DAP is also part of End The Epidemics, a statewide working group of approximately 160 public health and community organizations urging Governor Newsom and the California Legislature to empower key stakeholders as soon as possible to fund and implement California’s strategy to end the HIV, HCV, and STI epidemics.

“Funding is essential to fight the spread of newly acquired STIs in California, but it will not fix the entire problem,” said Carl Baker, director of legal and legislative affairs at DAP. “To test and link people to care, we have to meet them where they are; not where we wish they were.”

DAP staff provide testing and education in jails, prisons, drug rehabilitation centers and where our homeless neighbors live.

It also links clients to Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) as key strategies to decrease new infections. We know that regular STI testing that is part of the PrEP protocol identifies people who are infected with STIs who would not have been tested otherwise. 

In the Coachella Valley, and Palm Springs in particular, STIs are historically higher than the rest of the county, and have been rising steadily. Higher poverty rates than in the rest of California, plus a thriving tourism industry create an atmosphere for STIs to spread.

In 2018, Riverside County reported syphilis cases ran about 12 per 100,000 people. In the Coachella Valley: 32 cases per 100,000.

The numbers sharply increase in Palm Springs, with over 100 cases per 100,000, and especially North Palm Springs, with 185 cases per 100,000 people. (Riverside University Health System)

To address this trend, in May 2018 DAP lowered the price for testing and treatment for STIs to just $25, and no charge in extreme cases of lack of funds. Access to these services at other organizations in the Coachella Valley cost about seven-to-ten times as much, and prevents many from accessing testing and treatment.

Currently we are noticing about 30 additional clients per week at The DOCK for STI testing and treatment.

“Who knows how many of our clients would wait longer to get screening and treatment if they had to pay as much as ten times what The DOCK charges?” said C.J. Tobe, interim director of community health. “If our clients test positive, we can get them on treatment which is vital to stop the epidemics, and we can even go further, offering them ongoing primary medical and behavioral healthcare and other services.”

DAP knows from experience, and the CDC agrees, that our clients experience better health outcomes when they can access stable housing, and when they receive support to fight drug abuse, poverty, and stigma.

Besides accessing primary and behavioral healthcare, nutritious food and fighting isolation by connecting to other humans is also essential. Wellness services like yoga and chiropractic, and re-entering the workforce have shown to be essential to our clients as they rebound from an array of health challenges.

What Is A Syndemic?

Together, HIV, HCV and STIs create a syndemic—a set of linked health problems that interact synergistically and exacerbate poor health outcomes.

For example, having an STD increases the likelihood of acquiring HIV.  Among people who are living with HCV and HIV, HCV progresses faster and more than triples the risk for liver disease, liver failure, and liver related death. These epidemics are also driven by similar social and economic conditions and disproportionately impact many of the same disadvantaged communities.

About End The Epidemics

The California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Centers, together with HIV, viral hepatitis, and STD community-based organizations across California, have launched a community-driven effort to inform development of a statewide plan to end the HIV, HCV, and STD epidemics in California. What makes this initiative innovative and unique – in addition to community leadership – is its ambitious goal of addressing these health conditions as a syndemic – a set of linked health problems that interact synergistically and exacerbate poor health outcomes. The syndemic approach differs from the biomedical approach in that it treats diseases concurrently and also addresses the social determinants of health that drive these epidemics. To learn more, visit: www.chprc.org/end-the-epidemics/

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is a Federally Qualified Health Center in Palm Springs, CA offering DAP Total Care – a combination of medical, dental, counseling, social services, support groups, alternative therapies, in-house pharmacy and lab, and other health and wellness services.  DAP’s sexual health clinic, The DOCK, offers STD testing and treatment for only $25 per visit, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP’s Get Tested Coachella Valley campaign, the nation’s first region-wide free HIV testing and access to care initiative, was recognized by the White House for helping to bring about an AIDS-free future.  DAP has earned a “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator for the sixth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that we exceed industry standards in terms of our financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Visit
www.desertaidsproject.org
www.thedockclinic.org
www.gettestedcoachellavalley.org
to learn more

2019 Desert AIDS Walk ‘Walk a Day …

On Saturday, October 19 over 2,000 community members will unite in Ruth Hardy Park to walk in the Desert AIDS Walk in support of Desert AIDS Project, presented by Desert Care Network. This year’s walk, with the theme of ‘Walk A Day in Our Shoes’, will follow a 2.5-mile route through the new downtown Palm Springs and is notable for the diversity of community members who come together as teams each year to support Desert AIDS Project and our community partners.

Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Development Officer, Darrell Tucci on this year’s walk: “Desert AIDS Project has a long history as a leader in community healthcare and is unique in its approach to providing comprehensive services to underserved communities. We are, at our core, a non-profit health care center, specializing in HIV and infectious disease, supported in large part by the communities we serve.

Your Website Title
Desert AIDS Walk News

Desert AIDS Walk News.

Posted by Facebook on Friday, December 5, 2014

Desert AIDS Walk 2019 begins at 8 a.m. and will feature live entertainment, a Health & Wellness Festival featuring over 40 vendor booths, and a kid’s activity zone.

Desert AIDS Project CEO, David Brinkman is expected to update the community on the progress D.A.P. has made in eliminating HIV/AIDS and the work that remains to be done to ensure community health becomes a reality for every resident of the Coachella Valley. 

The walk kicks off at 9 a.m. and will be led by six-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, Hank Plante who was featured in the documentary 5B about the first AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital.  He will be joined by other health care providers who continue to lead the work being done to care for our community.  Register today!

Click here for Sponsor Opportunities!

Visit Desert AIDS Walk 2019

Dining Out for Life Coachella Valley 201 …

A powerful story about the impact of a community in action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Steven Henke

shenke@desertaidsproject.org

(760)656-8401

Palm Springs, CA – Eighty-three local restaurants, bars, bakeries and coffee shops participated in Dining Out for Life on April 25 donating 33% or more of their food, beverage, and liquor gross sales to support Desert AIDS Project. Setting a record this year, fifteen participants donated 50% or more. The local event, which raised $307,000, was part of the larger Dining Out for Life program which occurs on the last Thursday of April each year.  In 2019, there were 49 Dining Out For Life events throughout North America. 2,459 restaurants participated, and with the support of 4,000 volunteers and 400,000 diners, more than $4 million was raised to support local HIV services.

Harold Matzner donated 100% of Spencer’s gross revenue in honor of his friend, Barbara Keller who championed the mission of DAP and for whom DAP’s main building will be renamed ‘The Barbara Keller LOVE Building’.  Matzner’s restaurant was the top fundraising location in North America for the second year in a row joined by Lulu California Bistro and Trio Restaurant as the top three fundraising locations.  Jointly, the three locations raised over $74,000.

Locally, the event generates great community pride of place.  Greater Palm Springs raised more funds than cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and San Francisco.   “This is a powerful story about the impact of generous restaurants and our local community.” Said Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Development Officer, Darrel Tucci who credits the generosity of Great Palm Springs business owners for raising a record amount this year for client services at Desert AIDS Project (DAP).  “Palm Springs is the smallest participating market, but because of their commitment to DAP, we were second in overall fundraising again this year.  No other market can boast the level of commitment shown in Greater Palm Springs.”

Beyond fundraising to support DAP’s clients and services, the event generates community awareness of HIV/AIDS and supports Desert AIDS Project’s mission to enhance health and well-being of its community. Desert AIDS Project provides compassionate care for 6,500 patients and clients.  Desert AIDS Project’s goal and specialty is helping people achieve overall health. DAP is in the midst of a capital campaign, D.A.P. Vision 2020, which when fully funded, will enable it to double the number of patients and clients served.  Desert AIDS Project CEO, David Brinkman explains why the expansion is so important.  “There are 27,000 transgender individuals in our service area that need culturally competent care.  40,000 low income residents near DAP are still without healthcare and our neighbors facing a mental health crisis often wait weeks or months for an appointment.  Treatment for addiction, is often out of reach and affordable housing is almost non-existent in Palm Springs.  The future of DAP is humanitarian, moving individuals into care and onward toward a life of wellness.

Brinkman reflected on the impact of Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs. “Few other events bring DAP closer to our tap root of community action. DAP was founded on unconditional love and guided by community members who defined and funded solutions to help those in need. I hope the community shares our great sense of pride in being home to the top three fundraising restaurants in North America for the third year in a row.”  Over 10,000 residents ‘made one meal matter’ at participating locations throughout the day sporting their ‘I Dined’ badges of honor. 

Sponsors of Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs included Sysco Riverside, Nonstop Wellness, NBC Palm Springs, The Desert Sun, CV Independent, Standard Magazine, Gay Desert Guide.  The date for Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs 2020 is Thursday, April 26.

Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs

Donated 100%

Donated 69%

Donated 60%

Donated 50%

Donated 33%

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (D.A.P.) is a Federally Qualified Health Center in Palm Springs, CA offering D.A.P. Total Care – a combination of medical, dental, counseling, social services, support groups, alternative therapies, in-house pharmacy and lab, and other health and wellness services.  D.A.P.’s sexual health clinic, The DOCK, offers STD testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. D.A.P.’s Get Tested Coachella Valley campaign, the nation’s first region-wide free HIV testing and access to care initiative, was recognized by the White House for helping to bring about an AIDS-free future.  D.A.P. has earned a “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator for the sixth consecutive year – landing D.A.P. in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that we exceed industry standards in terms of our financial health, accountability,  and transparency. Visit www.desertaidsproject.org, www.thedockclinic.org, and www.gettestedcoachellavalley.org to learn more.

###

D.A.P. Support Letter for SB 1021

Senator Ed Hernandez
Chair, Senate Health Committee
State Capitol Room 2191
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: SB 1021 (Wiener) – Support
As Introduced, January 29, 2018

Dear Senator Hernandez:

Desert AIDS Project is pleased to support SB 1021 (Wiener), which will ensure consumers have access to vital medications by keeping existing consumer protections on prescription drug co-pays and formulary standards. SB 1021 will continue the co-pay cap of $250 for a 30-day supply of a prescription drug that was established by AB 339 (Gordon, Chapter 619 of 2015) and set standards for tiers in drug formularies. These consumer protections will expire at the end of 2019 if SB 1021 is not passed.

Prescription drug costs continue to skyrocket. Consumers are facing price increases on everything from longtime generics used to treat common conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol to new treatments for chronic diseases such as hepatitis C. Before the AB 339 consumer protections were put in place, Californians with serious and chronic conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lupus were particularly vulnerable to higher out-of-pocket costs because high-cost specialty drugs were often placed on the highest tier of a drug formulary. Consumers often reached their out-of-pocket limit of as much as $6,000 in the first month of the plan year when filling just one of their prescriptions.

For individual and small employer coverage, AB 339 also set standards for each tier of a drug formulary to help prevent health plans from routinely placing all specialty drugs on the highest cost tier. The bill also required health plans place a drug on a tier based on standards for safety and efficacy, not just its cost. AB 339 also prohibited health plans from placing most or all of the drugs to treat a particular condition on the highest cost tier of a formulary – preventing discrimination based on a health condition.

SB 1021 will maintain these protections, ensuring that all Californians, including those living with chronic conditions, are able to afford life-saving prescription drugs. This bill will also keep co-pays affordable for consumers and maintain standards for formulary tiers, helping consumers have access to the prescriptions they need.

For these reasons, we support SB 1021 (Wiener). Please contact Carl Baker, Director of Legal and Legislative Affairs at 760-656-8482 if you have any questions about our position on this bill.

Carl Baker
Director of Legal and Legislative Affairs

cc: Members, Senate Health Committee
Senator Scott Wiener, author

DAP Leadership Presents Infectious Disea …

D.A.P.’s own David Morris MD and Matt Moran MSN, ANP-BC, presented their research at the prestigious Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), happening this week in Boston.

CROI brings together top clinical researchers from around the world to share important developments and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases.

CROI is a global model of collaborative science and the premier international venue for bridging basic and clinical investigation to clinical practice in the field of HIV and related viruses.

We are so proud!

Community Health Educator Spotlight: Por …

Part of why I am so excited about being a Community Health Educator for Desert AIDS Project is that I get to be involved in helping spread the right kind of information to keep people healthy. I have a lifetime of personal experience in dealing with this pandemic. I am a strong advocate for the cause, and HIV has had a huge impact on my life.

I believe the key to getting to an AIDS-free generation is an education! Not only is knowledge the key, but along with giving out facts and statistics, we must also include our personal and individual stories. It is through our stories that we can make sense of all the information, and that we can UNDERSTAND and connect it to our real-life experiences.

My mother died from AIDS-related illnesses February 21, 2004, and I was born HIV positive in 1986. I am from San Bernardino, California, and there were no HIV medical specialists in my area back then. I had to be sent all the way to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. My provider’s name was Dr. Church, which I’ve always found ironic.

At the time, there were no treatments for HIV. The doctors said I would not live to be five-years-old. However, I just turned 31 December 5. Clearly, God had other plans for me.

My aunt and uncle took legal guardianship of me when I was two months old and made sure I got the care that I needed. Without them, I do not think that I would have been able to survive past my initial life expectancy. I would not have been taken care of very well at home, and definitely would not have made it to the millions of doctor appointments that I had to go to as a child.

I know that this dynamic occurs in a lot of black families as well. Grandmothers have to step up and take care of their grandchildren, or siblings have to step up to the plate and take care of their nieces and nephews due to drugs or incarceration. Fortunately for me, my family never treated me any different. I would not be as strong and independent as I am today if it was not for my family who loved me through my illness, regardless of the stigma.

I feel it is important that I include my stories when I give out facts and statistics, as an African American. Black experiences are often misrepresented in American society. It is through our personal stories that we learn the truth! Stories have the power to create social change and inspire a community.

That is precisely what I hope to accomplish at D.A.P. By sharing my own story about AIDS, along with the inspiration I get by working with the community, it is my wish that you will hear a message of hope.

Reflecting on the legacy of Dr. Martin L …

Annually black Americans pause in February to reflect upon our shared cultural heritage as African-Americans. In large part, our reflections turn to the Civil Rights struggles in the 1960s, spearheaded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. Sadly, for a growing sub-segment of the black (as well as Latinx) population in America, not only do we continue to battle against social-economic forces: poverty, unemployment, prejudice and an unbalanced justice system; we must face the reality that in minority communities, HIV is not on the decline like it is in the majority population.

Young gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in minority communities are at the highest risk for HIV in the USA! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that if current rates persist, half of all black; and a quarter of all Latino gay and bisexual men could be infected with HIV in their lifetimes.

On the one hand, Innovations in pharmaceutical science have given society the opportunity to “end the AIDS epidemic.” Be it daily medication, “meds” for people who are HIV-positive, which when taken on a daily basic effectively eliminate the potential of infecting another person and consequently ending the epidemic. Conjointly, on the other hand, HIV-negative individuals may avail themselves with Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill which practically eliminates seroconversion.

So where’s the problem you may ask? The answer is inexplicable. While the HIV infection rates continue to decrease for the majority population in the USA, the minority population continues to see increased HIV infections. Is this due to the stigma of men having sex with men in minority populations? Is it the lack of medical resources, and financial barriers to healthcare in minority populations? Or is it just ignorance of the medical advances available. Perhaps, the answer is a combination of all of the aforementioned.

What is certain is that behaviors have to change – both for the individual and society. Here in California, legislative leaders have finally shifted HIV focus to minority populations in an effort to increase awareness, testing and treatment.

The question becomes, what can we do to decrease the spread of HIV in minority populations?

  • • Increase public awareness of the disease in targeted minority populations and reduce the stigma. Black and Latino Americans have accepted the fact that they are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes; let’s treat HIV like any other “manageable disease.”
  • • In order to treat HIV, folks have to get tested. The State of California is increasing funding for HIV testing and many non-profit health care centers like Desert AIDS Project are going to community festivals with mobile testing; to wit, Black History Month Festival, Blatino Oasis, Taste of Jalisco Festival, to name just a few.
  • • If someone is diagnosed, they must immediately be linked to care. Both Federal and State funds are available to cover ALL expenses for people who live below the poverty level so cost is not an issue.
  • • Folks need to stay in care and on their medication. Once in care and property taking medication an HIV-positive person becomes un-infectious and will not transmit the HIV virus.

This is an attainable plan. What is missing is the public outcry and demand for social services to address not only the stigma attached to “gay sex,” but to address health care for ALL Americans. To borrow the words from Dr. King:

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight.”

Carl Baker is Directory of Legal and Legislative Affairs for Desert AIDS Project. He is passionate about USC Trojans football and is an avid swimmer.

Call these Republican Senators today and …

The Senate tax bill cuts funding for domestic programs that could undermine the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, HIV prevention, and funding for housing for people living with HIV.
 
Given the fact that more than 40% of people living with HIV who are in care are covered by Medicaid, these cuts could have a negative impact on access to and quality of care for hundreds of thousands of Americans living with HIV. 

Call these Senators TODAY and tell them to stand firm for a bi-partisan tax reform measure that will not undermine U.S. health care programs.
 
·      Lisa Murkowski (R – AK): Click to call (202) 224-6665, @lisamurkowski 
·      Susan Collins (R – ME):  Click to call (202) 224-2523, @SenatorCollins
·      Bob Corker (R – TN): Click to call (202) 224-3344, @SenBobCorker
·      John McCain (R – AZ): Click to call (202) 224-2235, @SenJohnMcCain
·      Jeff Flake (R – AZ): Click to call (202) 224-4521, @JeffFlake
 
Sample script: Senator — I am calling because we need principled Republicans like you to vote NO on the Senate tax bill. The bill defies Republican principles by adding at least $1.5 trillion to the national deficit and undermines U.S. health care programs like the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare. The Republican Party can do better. Thank you for standing up for party principles.*
 
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