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American Psychological Association Names Dr. Daniel Parker As 2019 Psychology and AIDS Distinguished Leader Award Recipient

American Psychological Association Names Dr. Daniel Parker As 2019 Psychology and AIDS Distinguished Leader Award Recipient

Palm Springs, CA – (March 8, 2019) Desert AIDS Project with great pride announces that its own Daniel Parker, Ph.D., has received the 2019 Psychology and AIDS Distinguished Leadership Award. The American Psychological Association (APA) Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology and AIDS (COPA) bestowed the honor after reviewing nominations by his colleagues, and by leaders in the public interest community. This distinction is awarded to just one psychologist yearly, chosen among leaders in the field across the U.S.

According to APA COPA, Dr. Parker was chosen for this accolade after years of compassionate service to improve the lives of people living with HIV through clinical work, research, policy and advocacy efforts, and teaching and mentoring the next generation of HIV researchers and service providers.

At Desert AIDS Project, this has resulted in an elevated level of expertise offered to clients seeking therapeutic counseling in individual and group sessions. Dr. Parker’s career became focused on HIV / AIDS nearly thirty years ago, soon after D.A.P. was founded in 1984, and has included clinical practice, advocacy and training in Australia and the U.S.

“We deeply value the empathetic, evidence-based and collaborative approach Dr. Parker brings to the 700 clients living with and at-risk for HIV who rely on D.A.P. for behavioral healthcare,” said David Brinkman, D.A.P. CEO. “He is removing once seemingly impenetrable roadblocks from their journeys to health and wellness, despite HIV.”

Dr. Parker is known as D.A.P.’s longest-tenured psychologist and recently as Director of Behavioral Health during record-breaking growth; 26% growth in clinicians and 59% growth in visits. His partnership extends back two decades while employed elsewhere. For many years he was one of the few clinical psychologists in several counties who could deliver culturally competent care for people living with HIV in a stigma-free, compassionate setting.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award from the APA, and to be part of a national community of psychologists and mental health providers who have worked over many years to improve the health and lives of those living with HIV”, said Dr. Parker.

Today, Dr. Parker influences resource allocation, recruitment priorities and strategic planning by highlighting emerging needs in the HIV community. Over 80% of clients are living at or below the County’s threshold for Extremely Low or Very Low income and 63% are over the age of 50 years – most facing accelerated effects of getting older attributed to long term use of antiretroviral therapies and opportunistic health conditions.

According to colleague Dr. David Morris, Chief Medical Officer, Desert AIDS Project: “Personally, I have observed how patients under my personal care are benefitting from individual therapy, support groups and collaborative partnerships with peers led by Dr. Parker,” said Morris. “His influence is ensuring a rightful place for approaches to memory function and cognitive health, cognitive behavioral therapy for pain management, integrated diet management programs, strategies to combat social isolation and trauma-informed care.”

Policy and Advocacy Leadership

Dr. Parker’s guidance in three influential bodies—the APA’s Gerodiversity Committee, the LGBT Aging Issues Network Council of the American Society on Aging and the HIV & Aging Research Project—Palm Springs (a local consortium of researchers and clinicians)—is resulting in momentum and legitimacy for research grants and wider community participation. Past examples of his impact include obtaining funding to launch an innovative CBT for Late Life Depression program and chairing the Older Adult Working Group of the Reducing Disparities Project which resulted in a state-wide survey measuring mental health service access and treatment for the LGBT community.  In Australia, he has been part of state and national working groups advancing issues in LGBT and HIV aging.

According to Professor Nancy Pachana, Ph.D., Co-Director, UQ Ageing Mind Initiative, at the University of Queensland (Australia):

“Dr. Parker has sought out jobs that utilize his considerable skills with vulnerable populations,” she said. “These are patients not only battling co-occurring disorders and negative social determinants of health, but decades of destructive experiences with stigma in the behavioral health profession.”

“With Dr. Parker, they find themselves establishing trust in a judgment-free environment,” Pachana said.

Additionally, Dr. Parker is motivating D.A.P. leadership to address affordable pain management alternatives and embrace new approaches to long-term survivors and older adults. Also, his expertise is making it possible for the Federally Qualified Health Center to pursue recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home and a leader in providing transgender care.

According to colleague Jill Gover, Ph.D., Clinic Director, Scott Hines Mental Health Clinic at The Center:

“Dr. Parker is aware that aging can compound the challenges facing those living with HIV,” she said. “He understands that specific therapeutic approaches are needed to address these problems, and works both in his practice and in the larger community to promote awareness of these issues.”

Teaching and Mentoring Leadership

Dr. Parker never stops sharing what he learns. Frequent lectures and trainings on issues relevant to mental health among people living with HIV promote excellence worldwide.

“Those of us who were once new to acknowledge the complexities that sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV infection played in our practice have found in Dr. Parker a guidepost and a mentor,” said Dr. Nancy Pachana, a psychology colleague in Australia. “I’ve watched clinicians in all stages of their career who were initially anxious or intimidated to tackle these emerging realities become culturally competent under his tutelage.”

In 2018 he engaged Pauline Crameri from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia to offer a training to D.A.P.’s 230 staff members on addressing health and psychosocial needs of LGBT older adults, drawing upon research and best practices from her country.

This fall he served as the mentor to D.A.P. clinicians attending the Global Education Initiative by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). As the co-chair of D.A.P.’s Transgender Health Program, Dr. Parker works closely with fellow co-chair and nurse practitioner, Anthony Velasco, MS, APRN, AGPCNP-BC, AAHIVS.

“Dr. Parker has illustrated leadership to open our doors wider so we can provide comprehensive and compassionate care to all people – regardless of their HIV status, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” said Velasco. “Dr. Parker has inspired all of us to do better and be better for the community we serve.”

About Desert AIDS Project

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