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8am to 5pm Mon - Fri

Community Impact News September/October …

Community Impact Newsletter September/October 2020


Lifesaving HIV Meds Quicker Under New Rapid ART Program

DAP programs for promptly treating patients with HIV are being recognized again at the national level, and the result will save even more lives and prevent new cases. It also says a lot about our community, because without donor support, these programs are not possible.

Winning designation as a Rapid ART Implementation Site is an important milestone in the fight to end HIV. DAP stands with just 10 other healthcare organizations in the U.S. The Award for Special Projects Of National Significance was won in a competitive grant process and is bestowed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

By joining this national demonstration project and collaboration with HRSA, DAP will share its 36 years of experience in the fight to end HIV, and it will boost resources for its HIV testing and treatment programs for people in the Coachella Valley.

For a three-year period, DAP will continue to build and share its best practices for making sure PLWHA receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) quickly after receiving an initial HIV diagnosis, or immediately after requesting it if they had stopped ART for any reason.

Untreated HIV Threatens Coachella Valley

It’s a surprise to many, but people are still developing and even dying from AIDS in 2020, right here in the Coachella Valley. Our early intervention program had 160 referrals for attempts to find patients who had stopped filling their ART prescriptions, ceasing their HIV treatment without explanation. (Based on calendar year 2019)

Falling through the cracks means that some patients whose bodies had stabilized with life-saving HIV meds have stopped taking them, sometimes for five years or more. And for others, it means not starting therapy at all after receiving an HIV diagnosis.

Without accessing care, they are waiting until they are sick from HIV-related illnesses before attempting to resume ART and primary care.

Waiting to begin or resume ART always leaves a dangerous gap of time that could result in catastrophe, such as failing to ever adhere to medication therapy, or even death. Another consequence is the effect on others as sex partners are put at risk for HIV.

This collaboration with HRSA seeks to remedy the problem with a protocol that provides ART ASAP:

  • Same day as HIV diagnosis (some exceptions)
  • Quickly after request is made to resume therapy

The vast majority (about 80 percent) of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2016 were transmitted from the nearly 40 percent of people with HIV who either did not know they had HIV, or who received a diagnosis but were not receiving HIV care. (CDC)

According to Dr. Tulika Singh, DAP Associate Chief Medical Officer, not all physicians are permitted to treat their patients without administrative obstructions that derail health outcomes.

“Despite having extensive experience in HIV treatment and care, caregivers struggle to reduce high HIV prevalence and rising HIV incidence rates, due to delays in starting ART,” she says. “This is due to previous protocols and practicing traditional HIV medicine,” like having to do unnecessary lab work or jumping through hoops with insurance.

“No more!” says Dr. Singh.

Greater access for ART through this project will be enabled by DAP’s referral and linkage networks, with extensive arrangements with regional medical centers, community clinics and individual providers, in addition to this grant.

“We are able to provide rapid start ART for newly diagnosed persons living with HIV as early as the same day of diagnosis,” she says. “This will help us get to UN 90-90-90 goal sooner than anticipated and help our patients age in a healthy way.”

Getting Back On ART -- Helping Someone Find The Courage

Given what we know about the health consequences of stopping ART, the public health argument is strong for offering the resources to resume therapy quickly and without delay. This includes taking the time to make a personal connection, so that people can feel safe.

When it comes to why people fall out of care, “Every situation is so different,” says C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health at DAP.

Poverty affects most DAP clients, but it affects PLWHA uniquely. They might cope with denial, depression, and suicidal ideation. Stigma is often made worse by rejection from loved ones, and drug and alcohol abuse are more likely to increase.

But other factors may include housing insecurity, unemployment, lack of transportation, and fear of government due to immigration status. Being a recent transplant to the Palm Springs area from other parts of the U.S. also can also be a reason.

“People are also dying by not accessing all the things you need to make the medication keep working,” says Tobe.  “There’s a lot that goes into getting that treatment, starting with walking through those doors.”

In addition to ART, DAP helps patients thrive with HIV with access to social services they are eligible for, ensuring they receive needed food, housing, transportation, and home health care support if they need it.

U=U Helping End The Epidemic

The more people who are on treatment and undetectable, the fewer new transmissions there will be. According to Prevention Access founder Bruce Richman,

“We need access to treatment and removing barriers, not just for the wellbeing of people living with HIV,” he says. “But also, to prevent new transmissions.”

About U=U & Prevention Access Campaign

Prevention Access Campaign is a health equity initiative to end the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV-related stigma by empowering people with and vulnerable to HIV with accurate and meaningful information about their social, sexual, and reproductive health. Find out more here.

Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) is a growing global community of HIV advocates, activists, researchers, and over 990 Community Partners from 102 countries uniting to clarify and disseminate the revolutionary but largely unknown fact that people living with HIV who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV.  

About UNAIDS 90-90-90

 Removing barriers to ART is in support of UNAIDS 90-90-90, the global plan to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

The goal is that globally,

90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, and  

90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and

90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

According to its 2020 update, “The response could be set back further, by 10 years or more, if the COVID-19 pandemic results in severe disruptions to HIV services.”

ANAC Promotion For Anthony Velasco

ANAC Promotion For Anthony Velasco

Ask any long-term HIV/AIDS survivor, and they will tell you the impact nurses make in their lives. Nurses keep PLWHA safe by managing their care, and their empathy and support are linked to sustaining ART adherence.

When you have a global network of engaged nurses who work in AIDS care sharing knowledge, life and care for PLWHA is so much better. That is the function of The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC).

It’s an honor to announce DAP HIV Specialist, Anthony Velasco, nurse practitioner and co-chair of our Transgender Care Program, has been elevated by ANAC to the office of Nominating Committee.

According to ANAC, “Anthony's dedication and commitment to the organization and all of those affected by HIV/AIDS is recognized and appreciated by us all. The membership has voiced their confidence in your leadership.”

We are so proud of Anthony. For more information about Anthony and DAP’s Gender Affirming Care, please watch the Born to Be panel discussion below.

Get Access To the Care You Need

One Call is a service that can enroll callers in health insurance or Medi-Cal through Covered California, register them for medical and behavioral healthcare, and schedule their first appointment at DAP — all in approximately 45 minutes. This is a significant reduction in the amount of time this would normally take, thanks to a DAP Healthcare Navigator who will work one-on-one with each caller.

Callers can access One Call service by calling 760-992-0426, Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm PDT.

Sexual Health Clinic - Palm Springs

1695 N. Sunrise Way Palm Springs, CA 92262

Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 AM (Closed for lunch from noon-1:00 PM)

Call 760-992-0492 to schedule an appointment.

To reach our after-hours answering service, please call (760) 323-2118.

Continuing The Care We Are Known For

Continuing The Care We Are Known For

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, August 8, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

People With HIV Need Unique Care During COVID-19

People living with HIV, and especially anyone aging with HIV, need options that keep them continuously in care in spite of COVID. Since the beginning of DAP, our doctors have shared their experience with providers everywhere on best practices for providing excellent HIV care for their patients. When doctors help each other learn, patients always come out on top.

Dr. Jill Gover continued this on a panel by HealthHIV that examined managing HIV during the COVID-19 pandemic. She explored the impact of mental and sexual health on HIV care, based on decades of experience and feedback from the Behavioral Health Department at DAP. You can find out more here.

DAP In The News

Staying On Top Of Sexual Health

C.J. Tobe and his team’s work to tackle the current STI and HIV surges were featured in an article in The Standard. The story also explains the dangerous syndemic nature among HIV, STIs, and HCV, and the work being done by End The Epidemics to keep Californians safer. You can read more here.

Born to Be Film Screening

We know our transgender siblings face unimaginable alienation in healthcare settings, and a recent study from UC Riverside researchers in the School of Medicine backs that up.  Only 15% of individuals reported it was easy to find a provider with sufficient knowledge and experience on issues related to transgender people. That isn’t the case at DAP, and we’re committed to fighting this stigma by sharing stories of transgender people as they navigate their journeys of transformation.

We’re partnering with the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care - Greater Palm Springs to host a free virtual screening of Born To Be on August 13. It’s a documentary that follows the trans and gender non-conforming individuals who are changing their lives at the groundbreaking  Mount Sinai Hospital. Learn more and RSVP at #BornToBeFilm

Possibilities of love, intimacy, hope an …

Possibilities of love, intimacy, hope and sex for PLWHA

This is the third in a series of four Q&A posts capturing founder Bruce Richman’s perspectives on our movement to end HIV stigma with U=U, Prevention Access Campaign, and all of us. Recently he talked with us on DAP LIVE.


I read that you ascribe to the Buddhist philosophy of ‘be happy and help others be happy’. Tell me about how that formed. I mean, what you've done is you've created this movement; you've created social impact. You've created social change.

I think a lot of people wonder how they can start in some small way to be part of the solution, if not in this movement, in another movement.

When I look at U=U it's like holding a sign that claims the intrinsic value of human beings, of all human beings. And that's so powerful.


I was driven by the unfairness that this information was only getting to me. This is life changing, incredibly important information. It was getting to folks like myself; white, privileged and well connected. But, everybody needed to have this information. And I felt like it was bringing the possibility of love and intimacy and hope and sex to people. I was just driven by that—this made me happy. I want to help other people be happy.

Especially people who are already marginalized by healthcare systems that are not responsive to their needs, or are designed to eliminate them.

I couldn't understand why some people in the field wouldn't share the U=U message. It's so basic— when you go to a restaurant and you like the restaurant, you tell somebody.  You see a good movie, you want to share it, right? So why were you enjoying U=U for the last five years with your partner, but you didn't tell your own staff?

When you're starting a movement, you have to be driven by truth. Especially for something that's so radically challenging to the status quo in the medical establishment and within the community itself, with its norms, power structures, and alliances-- you just have to be driven by truth.

You just have to keep going. You just have to keep focusing on principles, like be happy and let other people be happy, and that the truth will set you free. We can't give up, even though it seems like sometimes we're not going to win, you know?


I've read language is really important to you. It's very important to be specific and clear about what U=U means, right? Talk to me about that specific language for someone who wants to share this information and use the right language. What is that language?


It's important to be really clear when you talk about U=U,  especially if you talk about risk, because we're talking about the risk between one human being and another human being in the most intimate moments of our lives. And that language can either bring us so much joy, hope and freedom that we never thought would be possible, or it could destroy us.

So, when you say things like can't transmit, or no risk, that's great. We could even say zero risk as top scientists are saying. The CDC has said you can say U=U.

It gets dangerous when we say things like almost no risk or virtually no risk, or extremely low risk

this opens up a little window of risk, right?

And that's still a risk. And any window of risk puts our lives at risk for all kinds of harm, internal or external harm. So it's really important to be clear in that description. And then also not just in the language, but how you say it.

There are people whom you might've heard say, “I believe in U=U, but use a condom just in case.”

That but acts like a big eraser.

Another way of saying it is:

“I believe in U=U, and you might want to consider using a condom to prevent other STIs or an unintended pregnancy.”

Another fallacy?

“I believe in U=U, but you're only as good as your last viral load test.”

Nope. Viral loads do not shoot up to infectious levels with minor blips. If you're taking your medication and you get your labs done, you should have no problem. Blips are not anything of consequence. Just take your medication, get your labs done and stay connected to care.

One of the worst catch-alls is, “Oh, I believe U=U, but you never know.”

The truth is, we DO know, and it's okay. U=U.

Prevention Access Campaign offers a whole workshop on how to communicate about U=U, a helpful resource for anyone who wants to make sure they can speak the facts. Many who work in healthcare and social work still struggle with this topic.

Get Access To the Care You Need

One Call is a service that can enroll callers in health insurance or Medi-Cal through Covered California, register them for medical and behavioral healthcare, and schedule their first appointment at DAP — all in approximately 45 minutes. This is a significant reduction in the amount of time this would normally take, thanks to a DAP Healthcare Navigator who will work one-on-one with each caller.

Callers can access One Call service by calling 760-992-0426, Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm PDT.

Sexual Health Clinic - Palm Springs

1695 N. Sunrise Way Palm Springs, CA 92262

Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 AM (Closed for lunch from noon-1:00 PM)

Call 760-992-0492 to schedule an appointment.

To reach our after-hours answering service, please call (760) 323-2118.

DAP Food Program Nourished With Grant fr …

DAP Food Program Nourished With Grant from Bank Of America

Palm Springs, CA – April 24, 2020 – As the Coronavirus creates unprecedented demand and challenges for our services, Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is deeply grateful for a $20,000 grant from Bank of America to help us provide continuous access to nutrition for our clients as we respond to COVID-19. This grant will help ensure our at-risk clients will continue receiving fresh produce and grocery vouchers from our Nutrition Program.

At a time when sources of financial support to fund healthy staples and fresh produce have dried up or remained flat due to the virus, this grant from Bank of America greatly supports DAP’s commitment to providing hunger relief in our community – providing approximately 30,000 meals to clients of DAP who are eligible for food distribution and grocery vouchers.

DAP was awarded this grant because it is working on the frontlines of the pandemic in our community, and the array of wrap-around services DAP offers its clients.

“DAP is thankful to Bank of America for supporting our programs that build community health through good nutrition in this crisis,” said Zayda Welden, director of Social Services. “Uninterrupted access to fresh produce and groceries means that our clients who are most at-risk can worry less about the basics, thanks to this kind help.”

Bank of America recently announced a $100 million commitment in support of communities facing unprecedented challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Now more than ever, we need to take care of one another. Thanks to the responsive leadership of incredible Coachella Valley nonprofits like Desert AIDS Project, we can together help address this health and humanitarian crisis,” said Al Arguello, Inland Empire market president, Bank of America.

By providing a comprehensive continuum of healthcare and social services, including Nutrition Services to support retention in care and adherence to medical treatment, DAP keeps clients connected to medical care, despite existing barriers or challenges that may arise.

Hurdles Accessing Enough Food

Food Insecurity is an economic or social indicator of the health of the community with a direct correlation to poverty levels and poor health outcomes. At least 50% of our clients receive Supplementary Security Income, based on disability, which renders them ineligible for the CalFresh food "stamp" program. Other clients who are eligible for Cal-Fresh receive $16-$30 per month; amounts that are insufficient to fully alleviate food insecurity. Since DAP's founding, food assistance has been a vital component of our integrated approach to service delivery, based on the Chronic Care Model, a system of care that emphasizes patient self-management skills, and the Patient-Centered Medical Home model, which facilitates partnerships between patients and their healthcare providers.

About Our Clients

DAP serves vulnerable low-Income persons and families living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level inclusive of all races, ethnicities, gender orientation, and sexual identity, in addition to low-income people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Over one-third of DAP's patients/clients who are living with HIV are aged 50 years and older. DAP is well aware of the needs of clients and patients confronted by numerous complications of surviving long-term with HIV, including subsisting on fixed incomes.

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 STI testing and treatment, 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 twelfth 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, and to learn more.

Kristin Chenoweth to Headline Steve Chas …


Contact: Steven Henke

(760) 656-8401

‘The Chase’ 2020 Honors Humanitarians Removing Roadblocks to Human Potential

PALM SPRINGS, CA- January 1, 2020 – Desert AIDS Project (DAP) has announced that Kristin Chenoweth will headline its 26th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards on February 8 where Hank Plante, Garry Kief and Ambassador Deborah L Birx, M.D. will be honored for their work in removing roadblocks to human potential.

Emmy and Tony Award winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth’s career spans film, television, voiceover and stage. In 2015, Chenoweth received a coveted star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, she received an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in “Pushing Daisies”. In 1999, she won a Tony Award for “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” and she was also nominated for her original role of Glinda the Good Witch in “Wicked” in 2004. Chenoweth has been nominated for two Emmy Awards and for a People’s Choice Award for her role on “Glee.”

Returning as co-chairs are Desert AIDS Project Board Members Kevin Bass, Patrick Jordan, and Lauri Kibby. Kibby recently shared the co-chairs vision. “This year’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards will focus on how Desert AIDS Project and the people who support the organization remove blocks to human potential,”she said. “The work we honor is deeply personal and about human well-being.”

Desert AIDS Project CEO, David Brinkman is expected to share DAP’s vision for the future during the event. “Desert AIDS Project’s story includes a long history of identifying and responding to epidemics,” he said. “We intend to pay forward what we’ve learned during our first 35 years by reaching more people and changing more lives. We have and continue to be a humanitarian organization which removes road-blocks to human potential.”

The last decade alone has seen DAP make substantial in-roads in addressing epidemics.

2010 2.7 million people worldwide were newly infected with HIV in 2010. DAP begins the decade focused on ending the epidemic.

2012 Annette Bloch donates $1 million to fund a cancer care center dedicated to specialized HIV-related cancer research, screenings, treatment and prevention.

2014 DAP launches Get Tested Coachella Valley as the nation’s first non-profit-led, region-wide HIV testing, prevention, education and linkage to care initiative.

2015 DAP launches The DOCK, a walk-in clinic that provides HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing, linkage to care and access to HIV preventative medication Pre-Exposure Prohylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

2016 The DAP Hepatitis Center of Excellence opens to deliver comprehensive state-of-the-art expertise to manage, support and cure those afflicted with Hepatitis C.

2017 DAP opens Transgender Health Program offering gender-affirming services and care.

2018 DAP kicks off Vision 2020, a capital campaign which will result in the agency more than doubling its ability to provide patient-centered primary, HIV Specialty, Dental and Behavioral Health care to our community.

2019 Desert AIDS Project Celebrates 35 Years of Caring for our community.

How Desert AIDS Project Removes Roadblocks to Human Potential:

  • Medical Care- 7,000 clients call DAP their patient centered medical home, and about half do not have HIV. In the earliest days of the AIDS crisis, DAP discovered health outcomes for our HIV positive clients increased when we provided health care to their life partners and family members who were acting as caregivers. Today, DAP offers leading HIV specialty care as well as primary care for our community members not living with HIV. Because there is enough love in this valley to help everyone thrive and also prevent new cases of HIV.
  • Transgender Care- DAP is guiding more and more transgender, intersex, and gender diverse clients on their gender journeys. In a little over a year, DAP has seen its client enrollment quadruple for these services. Too many transgender individuals in the Inland Empire assume they won’t ever access stigma-free and competent care. At DAP they never have to worry.
  • Hepatitis Center of Excellence- 202 clients have been cured of Hepatitis C since 2017. DAP averages 9 weeks to cure clients, and never turns people away if they do not have insurance. HCV is a silent killer, but DAP’s advocacy is a lot louder.
  • Dental Care- Dental access is vital for good health, especially for people living with HIV. DAP’s dental clinic had 5,354 visits last year, and continues to add clients. A healthy mouth helps clients stay ahead of HIV, and everyone smile wider.
  • The DOCK-- $25 STI screening and treatment. Free Confidential HIV and HCV testing. PrEP and PEP navigators to onboard new clients and help access cost assistance. Because we won’t stop the spread of HIV and STIs in the Coachella Valley if we don’t make testing and treatment available to everyone.
  • Behavioral HealthCare—Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists. Coping with HIV and life can be overwhelming. DAP Behavioral Health clinicians help clients find hope. Because with the right support, we can get through almost any storm.
  • Social Services –Case managers make accessing healthcare and support services a reality for DAP clients. Transportation, food, housing, and enrolling for federal, state and local resources to cover care. In a complex healthcare system, DAP takes the worry out of obtaining and keeping care. 
  • Housing - DAP helps clients into permanent residences, and is developing more opportunities. Housing assistance is part of our prescription. Because access to medication is not enough to treat HIV—it also requires a place to live.
  • Back to WorkDAP’s back to work program has assisted over 200 clients re-enter the workforce when they were ready. This includes computer access, resume coaching, and job placement. DAP helps clients determine readiness for employment, and supports them throughout the process. Because having a job can be powerful medicine.
  • Client Wellness—A range of services, classes and support groups make DAP a community hub. Chair massage, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture and reiki. Because the AIDS crisis taught us that holistic health works. Strength training, art, sculpting and sewing classes. Because curiosity is healthy. Aging with HIV, addiction and recovery advocacy, and many other support groups. Because DAP understands that when a few people get together to support each other, an entire humanitarian movement can be born.

2020 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Honorees:

Hank Plante will receive the Arts & Activism Award, Garry Kief will receive the Partners for Life Award and Ambassador Deborah L Birx, M.D. will receive the Science & Medicine Award.  

Henry A. "Hank" Plante is an American television reporter and newspaper columnist. He is on-air at NBC Palm Springs and he is a member of the Editorial Board of Gannett's Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs. Winner of the George Foster Peabody Award and multiple Emmys, he covered California for three decades for TV stations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He now writes occasional columns for newspapers in California, usually focusing on politics or gay and lesbian issues. One of the first openly gay TV reporters in the United States, Plante is the recipient of various honors from LGBTQ rights advocacy organizations and trade groups. In addition, Plante was featured in the documentary "5B" 5B (film), which was honored at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film is about the first AIDS ward in the nation, which Plante covered as a reporter. A native of Detroit, Plante worked in both radio and television journalism, including 25 years at KPIX-TV (CBS 5) in San Francisco, before retiring in April 2010. Before that, he worked in print journalism, including at The Washington Post. At KPIX-TV, he interviewed a range of national and state political figures, including five U.S. Presidents and numerous Governors, legislators and opinion makers from Richard Nixon to Al Gore, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown and Hillary Clinton.

His experience includes reporting and anchoring at TV stations in various cities, including KHJ-TV in Los Angeles, KRIV in Houston, KMSP-TV in Minneapolis and WVEC-TV in Norfolk, Virginia. He also served as Assignment Editor at WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C., and as News Editor at WRC (NBC) Radio in Washington D.C. He began his career as a journalist in Washington, D.C. at the Sentinel Newspapers, where he was managing editor, and at The Washington Post, where he worked on the city desk.  His awards have included several local and national Emmys, as well as the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, in 1986, as part of CBS 5's "AIDS Lifeline" reporting team. He has also been awarded the Pioneer Award at the GLAAD Media Awards, and the James R. Harrison Award from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He was also named "Reporter of the Year" by the Associated Press (APTRA'S "Chris Harris Award"). Hank was inducted into the Emmy Silver Circle by the National Television Academy, which honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to broadcasting. In addition, his work has been singled out for praise by The New York.

Garry Kief is a former DAP Board Member and currently serves on the boards of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Palm Springs International Film Festival, McCallum Theatre, and the Annenberg Theatre Counsel. In addition, Kief has served as National President and Chairman of the Trustees of his national fraternity – Sigma Phi Epsilon, raising money for programs and scholarships to support undergraduate men. Kief is President/CEO at Stiletto Entertainment Group and President of Barry Manilow Productions. He has produced ‘A Gift of Love’ for four years raising millions of dollars for local charities. Kief also oversees the Manilow Music Project which empowers underfunded school music programs to provide quality music education. By donating instruments and equipment and providing scholarships nationwide, it gives disadvantaged young people the opportunity to experience community, passion, and creativity through the gift of music.

Ambassador-at-Large, Deborah L. Birx, M.D., is the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. Ambassador Birx is a world-renowned medical expert and leader in the field of HIV/AIDS. Her three-decade-long career has focused on HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Birx oversees the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, as well as all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Serving as the U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, she aligns the U.S. Government’s diplomacy with foreign assistance programs that address global health challenges and accelerate progress toward: achieving an AIDS-free generation; ending preventable child and maternal deaths; and preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats.

In 1985, Ambassador Birx began her career with the Department of Defense (DoD) as a military-trained clinician in immunology, focusing on HIV/AIDS vaccine research. From 1985-1989, she served as an Assistant Chief of the Hospital Immunology Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Through her professionalism and leadership in the field, she progressed to serve as the Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (USMHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 1996-2005. Ambassador Birx helped lead one of the most influential HIV vaccine trials in history (known as RV 144 or the Thai trial), which provided the first supporting evidence of any vaccine’s potential effectiveness in preventing HIV infection. During this time, she also rose to the rank of Colonel, bringing together the Navy, Army, and Air Force in a new model of cooperation – increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the U.S. Military’s HIV/AIDS efforts through inter- and intra-agency collaboration. Then known as Colonel Birx, she was awarded two prestigious U.S. Meritorious Service Medals and the Legion of Merit Award for her groundbreaking research, leadership, and management skills during her tenure at DOD.

From 2005-2014, Ambassador Birx served successfully as the Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS (DGHA), which is part of the agency’s Center for Global Health. As DGHA Director, she utilized her leadership ability, superior technical skills, and infectious passion to achieve tremendous public health impact. She successfully led the implementation of CDC’s PEPFAR programs around the world and managed an annual budget of more than $1.5 billion. Ambassador Birx was responsible for all of the agency’s global HIV/AIDS activities, including providing oversight to more than 400 staff at headquarters, over 1,500 staff in the field, and more than 45 country and regional offices in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, and Latin America. Recognized for her distinguished and dedicated commitment to building local capacity and strengthening quality laboratory health services and systems in Africa, in 2011, Ambassador Birx received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Society for Laboratory Medicine. In 2014, CDC honored her leadership in advancing the agency’s HIV/AIDS response with the highly prestigious William C. Watson, Jr. Medal of Excellence.

Headline performer, Kristin Chenoweth is a passionate supporter of charities that dedicate their time and efforts to helping those in need. She formed a charity partnership with the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center (BAPAC) Foundation in her home state of Oklahoma. Chenoweth's accomplishments were honored by her hometown with BAPAC naming "The Kristin Chenoweth Theatre" in 2012. Partnering with the BAPAC in a labor of love, Kristin launched an annual Broadway Bootcamp in 2015, providing young Broadway hopefuls with the opportunity to take classes, hold performances and learn from top mentors in the entertainment industry including Kristin herself. In her lifelong mission to cultivate arts education across the globe, Chenoweth has also created “Places! The Kristin Chenoweth Tour Experience," a unique educational program for young singers that puts them right next to her performing on stage. Each concert in Chenoweth’s ongoing tour will feature local participants from higher education conservatories, universities, and colleges for the immersive educational experience.

Chenoweth recently released her latest album “For The Girls,” debuting at #3 on the Current Pop Albums chart and #11 on the Billboard Top Albums chart. The album is a heartfelt tribute to the great female singers throughout history, particularly some of Kristin’s heroes and friends. Guest artists include Ariana Grande, Dolly Parton, Jennifer Hudson and Reba McEntire. The album includes Chenoweth’s personally charged interpretations of classic songs identified with such iconic artists as Barbra Streisand, Lesley Gore, Linda Ronstadt, Dinah Washington, Dolly Parton and more.

2020 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Sponsors

PRODUCING: Harold Matzner, Walgreens

MAJOR: Elgart Aster & Paul Swerdlove, Desert Care Network, Desert Sun, Eisenhower Health, Grace Helen Spearman Foundation, Living Out, LULU California Bistro

STAR: Mark Adams, Steven Anders/The Elizabeth Firth Wade Endowment, Annette Bloch, Desert Oasis Healthcare, NBC Palm Springs, Saks Fifth Avenue

SUPPORTING: Blackbook, Jim Burba & Bob Hayes, Diageo, Lynn Hammond, Lauri & Charles Kibby, Neil Lane Jewelers, Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel, UC Riverside School of Medicine, Wells Fargo Foundation

BENEFACTOR: Anthem Blue Cross, Carolyn & Daniel Caldwell, Colleen Crowley & Jack Martin, Coachella Valley Health Personnel, Diageo, Freehold Communities, Gilead Sciences, Annette Guzman, Heffernan Insurance Brokers, Image360, Patrick Jordan, Kaiser Permanente Foundation, Frank Kurland, Laboratory Corporation of America, Perry McKay, Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, Revive Wellness, Ann Sheffer & Bill Scheffler, Sysco Riverside, White Cross Pharmacy

MEDIA: CV Independent, Gay Desert Guide, LOCALE Magazine, Palm Springs Life, PromoHomo.TV, Rage Monthly, The Hollywood Times, The Standard Magazine

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 STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and Free 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,, and to learn more.