Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Monday - Friday

Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Mon - Fri

DAP’s Team Reaches Out in New Ways

DAP’s Team Reaches Out in New Ways

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, August 1, 2020, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

DAP Talks: Getting the Most Out of Your Healthcare   

Not knowing where to turn to access care and medication can be overwhelming for someone with HIV if they’ve lost a job or insurance, and especially if they need food and help with housing. There are more services and programs available than many patients realize.  

People in need have a friend in John Machado, Clinic Case Manager, who takes each client’s access to care personally. He is an expert at uncovering ways to attain health and services, based on each client’s unique story and his own 27 years of experience serving people throughout California.  “I’m here to help. One person can change another”, Machado proudly shares.  

Listen to his DAP Talks below.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 marked World Hepatitis Day.  

Community Health Department Reaches Out to Recovery Professionals  

Worldwide, 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis and are unaware. The theme for 2020 is to call on people to act and raise awareness in finding the “missing millions.” DAP acted by providing a virtual Hepatitis C event to substance use and treatment professionals across Riverside and San Bernardino County.  

C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health at DAP, spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic makes testing and treatment for other epidemics more urgent.  

“One thing we learned through the AIDS crisis is viruses do not discriminate. Anyone can get a virus.  

We have witnessed this for decades with HIV, Hepatitis, and now recently with COVID. We know social determinants of health is the driver for black and brown communities, and people living in poverty are disproportionately affected.   

Now, as the entire world is faced with the COVID crisis, it is more important than ever to work together to keep our finger on the pulse of other epidemics, especially the silent epidemic known as Hepatitis C that preceded COVID.”  

Did You Know?  

DAP Community Health Department team members are certified phlebotomists which allows HIV confirmatory tests to be drawn via our mobile unit, connecting the client to DAP’s Health Center to begin rapid ART for HIV.  

The PBT license also allows Community Health staff to administer STI testing in the mobile unit. 

5 Habits That Improve Physical Resiliency 

Dr. Singh, HIV Specialist, Associate Chief Medical Officer & Director of Research, is noticing that patients of hers with certain habits are experiencing better health outcomes during this pandemic. According to Dr. Singh “COVID-19 has upended our daily routines, our future, and our lifestyles. It’s crucial to get sleep, physical activity, eat well, and manage stress, to care for yourself right now.”  

Top 5 Things PLWHA Should Do for Physical Resiliency   

  1. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight  
  2. Keep hydrated with water and electrolytes  
  3. Eat right and minimize alcohol consumption  
  4. Take HIV medications regularly  
  5. Do yogic breathing to strengthen lungs  

Important: Adhering to social distancing guidelines, wearing face coverings, and washing hands often are required for any additional health and wellness practices to be effective.   

Don’t Drop the Ball on Your Health   

Many people from across the Coachella Valley get their primary medical care at DAP, and no matter what health profile they fit, life during this pandemic can make it challenging to maintain good health. If you’re neglecting your health, it’s likely in one of the following four areas, according to Dr. Tulika Singh.  

Top 4 Areas Neglected Most During COVID-19  

  • STI prevention and screenings   
  • Behavioral health visits for depression or anxiety    
  • Eating right, keeping a healthy weight, reducing alcohol  
  • Keeping routine checkups and lab work with Primary Care doctor   

Dr. Singh has this helpful tip: Telehealth services at DAP provide care to patients in a timely way via an easy phone call or video visit while minimizing the transmission risk of COVID-19.  

Additionally, take breaks from watching and reading news stories, including social media, as hearing about the pandemic repeatedly is distressing.”  

Changing Lives With Our Stories

Changing Lives With Our Stories

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, July 25 From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

People living with HIV everywhere have had their continuum of care and prevention interrupted throughout this health crisis, and the Coachella Valley is no exception. DAP clients haven’t experienced any loss of services, but other complications from living in the new normal are making it challenging for them to remain engaged in care.

That is why it was so powerful when our director of development, James Lindquist shared about his own HIV journey. Finding out he was HIV positive at a time when he was experiencing other major losses in life derailed him completely. So many of our clients have experienced the same, and we want them all to have the same chance to succeed by becoming clients at DAP.

By accessing support from an AIDS service organization in his area, James re-built his life and went on to honor his own plans for professional and personal growth. For years now, he’s chosen to pay it forward by working to offer the same to anyone whose life is being turned upside down because of HIV. You can listen to his DAP Talks here.

DAP in the News

Living With HIV During COVID-19

It was moving to see our clients’ needs around COVID-19 explored in a New York Times story featuring Dr. Jill Gover and members of our long-term survivor community. This health crisis is triggering PTSD for many as they cope with aging with HIV, staying in recovery, and the anxiety over being at high-risk for Coronavirus. The article also takes a look back on the AIDS crisis, and it presents some new ways that PLWHA are finding their power today in the Coachella Valley.

STI and HIV Epidemic Awareness

We continued getting the word about the dangerous STI and HIV epidemic still raging in our Valley.  We’re experiencing a 20% spike overall compared to calendar year 2019, but thankfully C.J. Tobe pointed out all the new ways his team is making it easy for everyone to stay on top of their sexual health during COVID-19. You can watch the KESQ interview here.

Plasma Donation Is Making a Difference

Dr. Singh shared her experience donating plasma locally at LifeStream, as well as her personal experience with COVID-19. We are so proud of her for choosing to share her story so that everyone can learn about this hopeful new approach for treating COVID-19 in the sickest patients. You can watch the KESQ interview below.

We can’t forget about HIV and STI …

We can't forget about HIV and STI epidemics

Sharing Decades of Know How Online

We’ve brought our collection of patient literature online, so that everyone can access and download information in pamphlet format from home. Written by staff, these resources provide need-to-know information for anyone interested in the services DAP is known for. Materials are offered in English and en Español. Topics include a COVID-19, HIV, STIs, Transgender Health, HCV and more. Click here to access the page to start downloading.

We Can’t Lose Fight With HIV Because of COVID-19

In June, our team tested and counseled three times as many people with new HIV infections, compared to any other month in the last year and-a-half. This tells us that the last five months of living in the “new normal” has made taking care of sexual health harder for people.

By using DAP’s new at-home HIV testing, no one has to put their health on hold if they are sheltering in place. Anyone interested in using this resource or with questions about accessing sexually health services should email testing@desertaidsproject.org or contact April Cruz at 760-656-8425.

Ongoing medical and behavioral healthcare, plus a lot of wellness services, are always offered when someone tests positive for HIV at DAP.

Spike in HIV and STIs

Our community’s health is threatened by steadily rising rates of HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia. Many DAP clients are feeling fatigued from socially isolating and nervous about coming indoors for testing and medical visits.

Before COVID-19, we were battling an STI epidemic in the Coachella Valley that hasn’t ended. June saw double new syphilis infections compared to May at DAP, and chlamydia has been on a rapid climb for six months.

Thanks to our Community Health team, our clients can continue routine STI and HIV testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here

Plasma Donation Changes Lives

Our Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tulika Singh never passes up an opportunity to pay it forward for others. After recovering herself, Dr. Singh wanted to make a difference by donating her plasma for a therapy that is helping the sickest COVID-19 patients.

“If I can help even just one person, that will be worth it.” She got her wish-- within 48 hours, she learned her plasma had reached two very sick people in need. 

Adding More to Grocery Delivery

So many of our clients who are sheltering-in-place are long-term HIV survivors, and they are re-experiencing PTSD from the worst days of the AIDS crisis.

Our food home delivery program has been helping them stay nourished with healthy groceries since March. Along with help from our Client Advisory Board, now we’re adding essential personal care and household cleaning items to these deliveries, starting next week. 

Everyday tasks like cleaning your kitchen countertop, and personal hygiene, help us stay healthier and more connected to living.

If you or someone you know are living with HIV and struggling to find support, please contact Guillermo Ramos at (760)323-2118.

This was made possible by our grants team, who saw this need and obtained funding through ‘HRSA Ryan White Part C-Covid’ to support the home delivery program to our patients and clients. We are so thankful for this vital help from HRSA.

Getting Re-Tested After Having COVID-19

Re-testing after you’ve had COVID-19 is a natural choice, but your doctor will know best when to re-test you, and which test to administer for the most accurate reading. Please call (760) 992-0407 if you’d like more information. You can read more in our updated Q&A on Coronavirus here.

Re-testing too quickly will not change your quarantine time, and it could provide false results. If you need follow-up care for symptom management, DAP is here for you. 

Spike in HIV and STIs Troubles Preventio …

Spike in HIV and STIs Troubles Prevention Experts at DAP

Palm Springs, CA (July 16, 2020) -- Steadily rising rates of HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia in the Coachella Valley are showing that the last five months of living in the “new normal” has interfered with people taking care of their sexual health. These rates pose a significant threat to our community, one that is already fatigued from socially isolating and nervous about coming indoors for testing and medical visits.

By using DAP’s new at-home HIV testing resources, clients no longer have to put their health on hold if they are sheltering in place. Anyone interested in using these resources or have questions about accessing sexually health services should email testing@desertaidsproject.org or contact April Cruz, Community Health Diagnostic Testing & Outreach Manager at 760-656-8425.

DAP Testing data from June shows why community health experts have reason to worry. According to DAP, there were:

  • Triple the amount of new HIV infections, compared to any other month in the last year and-a-half,
  • Double the amount of new syphilis infections compared to May,
  • Double the chlamydia cases (a six-month trend!).

“If we take our finger off the pulse of the existing HIV and STI epidemic, we will undo the progress we’ve made in preventing new transmissions,” said C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health. “The lack of routine testing and treatment is only going to add to the tragedy of COVID-19.”

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.

DAP is 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.

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 Community 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.

Greater Kansas City or Coachella Valley, …

Greater Kansas City or Coachella Valley, Dr. Foltz lives to heal his community

For the Coachella Valley, it is a good thing that Dr. Christopher Foltz was on staff at Desert AIDS Project as the COVID-19 health crisis unfolded.

Already an integral member of the Infectious Disease team since 2017, he conceived the idea for a COVID-19 Triage Clinic at DAP and inspired a team of healthcare professionals to launch it successfully with him. He also managed validation testing for the antibody test, an important step to establish reliability, as clinicians everywhere grapple with unproven testing products. 

As the crisis unfolds, he continues to innovate with his team to serve more people with options like drive-up services and asymptomatic testing. Within a few weeks of opening, the COVID-19 Triage Clinic had already saved lives, alleviated pressure on local emergency rooms, and helped calm frazzled nerves among patients.

But the physician credited with spearheading the operation started building his skillset long beforehand in Kansas City, heavily influenced by its community values and its learning institutions. It would require spending five years in L.A. first, but Dr. Foltz has come to find that he sees Kansas City emulated the most here in the Coachella Valley. He’s pleased with that. 

Surprisingly similar: the Coachella Valley and Kansas City

For all of their geographical differences, Kansas City and the Coachella Valley are a lot alike if you are living in poverty, cut off from medical and behavioral healthcare, or other life essentials. Much of the populations live farther away from the city centers where services are offered. Issues like poor transportation, inadequate childcare, and problems with phone and internet access create unique barriers to access.

Many of the social determinants affecting both populations also remain the same. Higher instances of substance abuse and mental health issues create areas of need that are not commonly addressed in the traditional healthcare system. And a high population of undocumented and legal immigrants struggle to access services amid language and cultural barriers.

One of the silver linings no matter where he practices, according to Dr. Foltz, is the gratitude that most patients express when they receive competent medical care, some for the first time in their lives.

Feels like Kansas City right here in the Coachella Valley

Another similarity between Kansas City and the Coachella Valley is the feeling of a tight knit community, even though people are spread out.

“One of the things I attribute most to being from the Midwest is the sense of community and caring that was always around,” he said. “This is something I now feel very similarly in Palm Springs.”

After a three-year internal medicine residency at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center and a two-year infectious disease fellowship at UCLA, although thankful, Dr. Foltz felt anonymous in the second largest city in the U.S.

“In L.A., there was a sense of being a small fish in a big pond,” said Dr. Foltz. “In the Midwest it always seemed the opposite.”

“As a resident of Kansas City and a supporter of Desert AIDS Project, I am proud that a young doctor from KUMC is leading Palm Springs’ COVID-19 response at DAP,” said humanitarian and philanthropist Annette Bloch. “Kansas City and the Coachella Valley share a lot in common, most importantly people who care about one another.”

Dr. Foltz was made for this crisis—roots sprouted at JayDoc Free Clinic

Before he would go on to complete his Internal Medicine residency at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, and then an infectious disease fellowship at UCLA, his work ethic and skillset had been melded with the values of Midwest America—hard work, mixed with caring for your community.

Dr. Foltz knew his passion was serving those struggling with poverty, and he was able to hone his skillset at the JayDoc Free Clinic, located at the University of Kansas in Kansas City. Serving about 1,000 patients annually since its launch in 2003, it provides urgent and primary care to the underserved and uninsured populations of Greater Kansas City.

By the time he arrived on the West Coast, Dr. Foltz was already groomed to lead a clinic—not just the nuts-and-bolts operations, but as a strategic leader. He started at JayDoc as Assistant Director of Research and then served as an Executive Director. He went on to serve on its Board of Directors during his time in medical school at the University of Kansas. 

According to him, Dr. Foltz gravitated to the field of Microbiology early in his college career, fascinated that such simple things like bacteria, fungi, and viruses could create such havoc on civilizations. As time went on, that fascination shifted to how the study of these simple organisms could lead to antibiotics and vaccines.

“That’s when I knew Infectious disease was going to be my specialty, because I could see in real time how this knowledge could make a difference,” he said.

JayDoc Free Clinic is completely Medical student managed and operated, and that’s no small fete. The leadership team were responsible for everything: grant writing, finances, administration, volunteers, and operations.

“It was truly rewarding, and that experience really cemented my desire to work on behalf of the underserved community.”

Dr. Foltz built his career excelling at direct patient care, but his practical experience at JayDoc gave him the unique skillset to conceive of DAP’s COVID-19 Triage Clinic, and then to oversee its opening and manage its current functioning. Combined with his clinical knowledge as a board-certified Infectious Disease physician, he is making a measurable difference in the lives of his patients, as well as his staff and the community.

And true to his Midwest roots, sharing credit with others comes naturally to him.

“I am just one member of an incredible team of clinical, administrative, and operational staff.”

Dr. Foltz himself is no stranger to gratitude.

“More than ever I am incredibly thankful for that background,” he said. “I am using all these skills in real-time as we study characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 disease, Coronavirus testing, and potential therapeutics and prevention methods.”

A certain humanitarian is also part of that background.

When JayDoc Free Clinic would close down for the day, Dr. Foltz and his colleagues were permitted to see patients in the evenings at a very special community clinic, thanks to the generosity of its founder and lead physician, Dr. Sharon Lee.

“I got to work very close with her the two years I served administrative positions at JayDoc,” Dr. Foltz said. “Her work ethic and passion for her mission and community is something I still to this day try to aspire to.”

Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care was founded in 1989 by Dr. Sharon Lee to help alleviate suffering for people coping with HIV and AIDS. Just as with DAP, the great care provided became a staple in that community for everyone, and the clinic became a Federally Qualified Health Center.

“She was truly remarkable and one of the hardest working women in medicine I have ever met,”
 Dr. Foltz said. “She would do anything to help us at the drop of a hat.”

Recently the FQHC was renamed Sharon Lee Family Health Care, in honor of its founder.

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.

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.

Question:

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.

Answer:

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?

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.

Looking Out For Each Other

Looking Out For Each Other

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, July 3 From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

Will your weekend plans expose you to COVID-19?

Our COVID-19 Triage Clinic has now provided care to more than 2,000 people seeking testing and medical support for their symptoms.

The team has noticed people testing positive are younger on average than when this crisis began. It’s a national trend, and we must keep reminding each other about our mutual obligation to take this health threat very seriously.

As he addressed his co-workers, our Director of Community Health, C.J. Tobe, shared his painful news that within a 24-hour period, he lost several friends under 40 to COVID-19 this week.

He urged his colleagues to consider: “Will my weekend plans expose me to COVID-19?”

One-in-two COVID-19 patients have no idea who exposed them or when they contracted the virus in the two weeks leading up to symptoms. According to our team, this illustrates the danger from asymptomatic transmission and community spread.  We can guard against this with strong adherence to wearing face coverings, social distancing, and extra hand washing. For CDC guidance click here.

Currently, Riverside County is second in California for new COVID-19 cases. As we celebrate our nation’s independence on this long weekend, we beg you to ask yourself, “Will my weekend plans expose me to COVID-19?” If the answer is “yes,” please consider changing them to protect yourself and others.

We all have to be aware of new health restrictions in California this week; bars and restaurants must halt indoor service to customers. This also applies to sectors including wineries, movie theaters, zoos, museums and card rooms. These orders are expected to be in effect for at least three weeks. Read more here.

If you or anyone you know needs information on COVID-19 testing, please call us (760) 992-0407 to talk to an expert.

Study Examines How PLWHA Are Coping In New Normal

HARP-PS and the University of Southern California are conducting a study to find out how people living with HIV over 50 in our community are getting through this current health crisis. Many of our patients lived through the worst years of the AIDS crisis, and they report experiencing post-traumatic stress, as well as very real barriers accessing care and life sustaining services currently. Data collected will be used by healthcare providers to make care and access better for our HIV positive in the Coachella Valley.

Call (760) 408-6267 for more information.

Invest in PLWHA to Prevent New HIV Transmissions

We’ve shared the second in a series of four Q&A posts capturing Prevention Access Campaign founder Bruce Richman’s perspectives on our movement to end HIV stigma with U=U.

In this post Bruce talks about how keeping PLWHA in healthcare and connected to services yields a much broader benefit to the greater public health, and how stigma still gets in the way of people getting tested. Read more here.

Preventionaccess.org has a lot of information, including social shares that allies can use. It has tips about the language that we should all be educating ourselves about. 

Thanking Direct Relief for Covid-19 Relief Funding

We want to thank Direct Relief, in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers, for their grant funding of $50,000 to help sustain our COVID-19 Triage Clinic. This support helps us provide consultation, COVID-19 testing, and respiratory treatments to people in our community. By providing this service, DAP is taking pressure off of our overwhelmed emergency rooms and ICUs as the surge continues. Read more here.

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 Receives Emergency Grant from Direct …

DAP Receives Emergency Grant from Direct Relief to Bolster the Healthcare Safety Net in the Coachella Valley

DAP is so thankful for the recent infusion of $50,000 in emergency grant funding from the medical aid organization Direct Relief, in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers.

DAP was among 518 federally qualified health centers to receive funding through Direct Relief’s $25 million Covid-19 Fund for Community Health, which recognizes the profound effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the finances, services, staff, and patients of community health centers.

DAP will use the funds to continue operating its COVID-19 Triage Clinic in Palm Springs.

“Access to primary care is what keeps people healthy and out of the hospital, and the frontline work of DAP and other nonprofit community health centers across the U.S. is more critical than ever with the onset of Covid-19,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “Direct Relief is doing everything possible to bolster the work and support the staffs at the safety-net health facilities on which so many patients and their families rely for excellent care and trust for advice in this public health emergency.”

Nearly 30 million (1 in 12) of the country’s most vulnerable residents -- including 1 in 3 individuals living in poverty, 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries, -- rely on federally qualified health centers like DAP for their health care. That number is expected to rise as more people lose employer-sponsored insurance.

“We are grateful for this critical and immediate support as Community Health Centers work hard to keep communities safe during an unprecedented pandemic,” said Tom Van Coverden, President & CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “We are also deeply appreciative of our longstanding partnership with Direct Relief in these uncertain times and their efforts to ensure that health centers confronting multiple challenges in underserved communities have the resources when and where they need them. We know that many donors and contributors have helped to make this fund possible, and we further extend our appreciation to all of them.”

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 www.desertaidsproject.orgwww.thedockclinic.org, and www.gettestedcoachellavalley.org to learn more.

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Invest In The Wellbeing of PLWHA To Prev …

Invest In The Wellbeing of PLWHA To Prevent New Transmissions

This is the second 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.

Question

We don’t talk enough about how stigma can prevent us from getting HIV testing.

If someone who’s HIV positive can access medication, they can live a very long life. But if they don't know that they have HIV and they don't access medication, there can be all kinds of complications.

Tell me about U=U’s role in ending the epidemic. Because if we don't know our status, and if we don't have access to the medication we need, we're not going to end the HIV epidemic. Also, why is stigma still so prevalent?

Answer

Initially I didn't understand that U=U had a role in ending the epidemic in terms of preventing new transmissions. I always really focused on improving the lives of people with HIV and ending the stigma that we have faced for so long. But in terms of ending the epidemic, U=U is essential. Dr. Fauci says, “U=U is the foundation of being able to end the epidemic,” because the more people who are on treatment and undetectable, the fewer new transmissions there'll be.

So in the United States, when you realize half of the people living with HIV are not on treatment and not in care, and they're not getting the treatment and care or the services, they need to stay healthy.

They're also not getting those services that they need to stay un-transmittable. So if we really want to end the epidemic and save lives, we're going to make sure that we invest in the wellbeing of people living with HIV, so they can stay healthy and prevent new transmissions. We need to link investing in the wellbeing of people living with HIV to ending the epidemic. Because when you invest in the wellbeing of people with HIV, you prevent new transmissions. And that's a big deal.

HIV stigma is intertwined with all kinds of stigma. There's sex negativity, homophobia, transphobia, stigma against people who inject drugs and sex workers. And that deep-seated negativity against all kinds of STIs. HIV stigma is particularly embedded in this country because of the last 35 years of mass fear-based messages. And what we remember since the early days of the 1980s.

It’s something that is really hard to unlearn decades of fear of HIV and people living with HIV. It'll take a long time. That's why we have to keep saying it— “U=U.”

People living with HIV cannot pass it on if you make sure that all of us have the treatment and the care that we need to stay healthy. We're not going to pass on HIV. There's no fear. You can have sex,  babies, love—all with no risk.

Question:

When you started this, did you think it would become a global human rights movement?

Answer:

We launched U=U four years ago. No, I didn't think it was going to be like this. I've always been really behind the scenes with my work in the past. I just knew this had to be done. We had targets, we had the CDC, we had UN AIDS, World Health Organization, public health associations, and research associations.

We were very focused in terms of who we needed to move forward and our advocacy. And we had numbers, I think at the end of the first year, we're going to have 75 in the U.S. and we had already had 200 at that point.

This just goes to show the power, the passion and the brilliance of people living with HIV around the world who are standing up to change the narrative about their bodies. And to reclaim our lives from public health systems that are deeply, inherently flawed, racist and paternalist—all those “isms” that prevented this life changing information from getting to us all those years.

It's almost a thousand organizations in 101 countries. Now it's just, it's phenomenal. And so many different languages.

Preventionaccess.org has a lot of information, including social shares that allies can use. It's got tips about the language that we should all be educating ourselves about. It’s science-based, and values fact over fear.

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.

Transgender Care at DAP Is Here For You

Transgender Care at DAP Is Here For You 

Transgender residents in California seeking culturally competent, compassionate medical and behavioral healthcare in a stigma-free setting can always get it at DAP, with help navigating coverage through Covered California as well. 

Call (760) 323-2118or email TransCare@desertaidsproject.org for more information. 

We asked Anthony Velasco, Co-Chair of DAP’s Transgender Health Programto help allies understand a little more about transgender people’s experiences with healthcare, and how we all have an opportunity to help create spaces that all are welcome in. 

Question: Some in healthcare wear their pronouns on their nametags (i.e., she, her, hers) What does it mean to a trans person when they see this on someone’s name tag when they come in for services? 

Answer: Pronouns matter --- acknowledging someone’s pronouns and using their pronouns is a sign of respect and courtesy. Wearing our pronouns on our nametags, identifying the pronouns we use when we introduce ourselves, and adding pronouns in our signature lines also creates a safe space for individuals who have experienced misgendering or those who are afraid to be misgendered. Wearing our pronouns on our nametags also signals to our patient that --- we see you, we acknowledge you, and you are safe with us. 

Question: How can we help people understand why so many trans people face barriers to basic healthcare? 

Answer: We need to talk about the stigma experienced by trans people throughout their lives 

Cis-centered and heteronormative policies and practices greatly limit the resources and opportunities for them and their communities.  

Many have reported delaying preventative care due to discrimination they have experienced from their health care providers, including verbal harassment. Many also report having to educate their doctors about gender affirming care when it should be the other way around. 

I believe that gender-affirming care should be integrated in primary care, and that primary care clinicians should be able to provide gender-affirming primary care.  

Question: How do we create a world with more culturally competent healthcare clinicians providing reliable transgender care services? 

Answer: Stigma against gender-diverse individuals has permeated in different levels of our society, and we must fight it all. We start this by integrating LGBTQ-health related content in medical, nursing, and allied health curricula.  

At most colleges, the median number of hours in the medical curriculum on LGBTQ health is only 5 hours, and even less for nursing curriculaAt Desert AIDS Project, we enrich this, ensuring that nursing and nurse practitioner students, medical students, and residents are exposed to health-related issues unique to the LGBT community.  

Providing all team members an understanding of how transphobia, homophobia, and racism all have direct impacts on our clients’ health is a core training aspect with our future clinicians at DAP. By doing this, not only are we able to model the values of inclusiveness and diversity we stand for, but we also shape future clinicians to value inclusiveness and diversity once they start their own professions. 

More about HHS removing ACA protections  

The news about HHS removing ACA nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people for health care and insurance does not affect access to care and services at DAP.  

At DAP, we offer our transgender and non-binary community culturally competent, compassionate medical and behavioral healthcare in a stigma-free setting. We also help them navigate through Covered California, our state’s insurance exchange, for access to MediCal or other options. We do not turn anyone away because they don’t have insurance.  

Anyone can still access Transgender Care at DAP. Thanks to our own state’s insurance practices and civil rights law, LGBTQ people remain protected. Unfortunately, transgender people do not have the same rights across the U.S.  

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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.

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