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

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

DAP Patients Joining ANCHOR Study for An …

DAP Patients Joining ANCHOR Study for Anal Health

(Palm Springs, CA) October 21, 2020 -- There are only four places on the entire West Coast where people living with HIV / AIDS (PLWHA) can participate in The ANCHOR Study, and DAP Health Center is one of them. HPV-related anal cancer disproportionately harms PLWHA, especially cisgender gay men and transgender women. Unfortunately, prevention, treatment and support are difficult for them to find. Now, DAP patients can receive long term screenings and treatment, thanks to our designation as an ANCHOR Study site.

DAP medical and research clinicians worked hard to earn a place in this groundbreaking project. ANCHOR Study seeks to stop cases of preventable anal cancer in PLWHA by establishing testing and treatment protocols.

There are 40 participants enrolled at DAP so far, and “the team is welcoming more,” according to Dr. David Morris, chief medical officer. Participants are paid $100 per study visit to compensate for time, effort, and travel expenses.

For many DAP patients living with HIV, screening and treatment for a variety of cancers is part of their continuum of HIV care. If they take part in ANCHOR Study, they will monitor and support their anal health with top doctors and researchers, staying in contact for five-to-eight years. They will be contributing to groundbreaking scientific research that will help save lives in the future.

Living with HIV puts many of our patients at higher risk for anal cancer, even if they are on successful antiretroviral therapy (ART). ANCHOR Study aims to show treatment of pre-cancerous cells will lead to a reduction of 75% of incident HPV-related anal cancer.

Anyone interested in the ANCHOR Study is invited to contact Greg Jackson, DAP research coordinator, at (760) 992-0445 or gjackson@desertaidsproject.org. To read more about ANCHOR Study at DAP click here.

More about ANCHOR Study

"No one knew that cervical cancer was preventable before the use of Pap smears became widespread in the 1960s and cut the incidence of the disease by 80 percent."- Dr. Joel Palefsky, Principal Investigator

While deaths from AIDS are way down, anal cancer among people living with HIV is on the rise. We think that anal cancer can be prevented by routine screening and removal of precancerous cells. This strategy has reduced cervical cancer rates by 80%. But to get the insurance companies to cover routine anal cancer screening and preventative treatment, we need to prove that this strategy actually prevents cancer. The best way to show that is to recruit people with High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions (or HSIL for short) into a study and assign them randomly to a treatment arm or a monitoring arm. We then follow everyone for five years to compare the rates of cancer in both study arms. At the end of the study we’ll know whether screening and treatment of HSIL are effective strategies in preventing anal cancer. We’ll also learn a lot about HPV and other risk factors and why these sometimes cause cancer.

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is a humanitarian healthcare organization 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.org to learn more.

 

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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.

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.

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.

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