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4 Coachella Valley leaders call for incr …

4 Coachella Valley leaders call for increase in monkeypox vaccines to protect LGBTQ+ and other vulnerable residents

Palm Springs, CA – Coachella Valley health and community leaders are raising awareness at the state level about an inadequate allocation of monkeypox vaccines being distributed to serve one of the region's most vulnerable populations: the LGBTQ+ community.

DAP Health and the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation recently joined forces to create a full-page advertisement in the Sacramento Bee that is designed to get state legislators' attention. Both the City of Palm Springs and Desert Care Network are featured in the ad as community partners supporting the effort.

Scheduled for publication Sunday, August 14, the ad urgently calls for an immediate increase of vaccines for LGBTQ+ residents to prevent further spread of the virus. As of Wednesday, August 10, Riverside County Public Health had identified about 70 cases of monkeypox that were either confirmed or under investigation in the Coachella Valley -- twice as many as the prior week.

While anyone can contract monkeypox, early infections since the outbreak in May primarily have been among men who have sex with men. Gay and lesbian Californians account for 91.1 percent of monkeypox cases in the state, while residents who identify as bisexual are 5.9 percent, according to the California Department of Public Health. In Palm Springs, where LGBTQ+ residents comprise 40 percent to 60 percent of the population, a large part of the community remains at-risk.

The ad also informs newspaper readers that the Palm Springs area is a popular destination for thousands of LGBTQ+ visitors each year. More than 30 LGBTQ+ events have been planned for this summer.

“As the state calibrates its response to the monkeypox outbreak, I urge them to give due consideration to the unique risk factors that will predispose regions, such as the Coachella Valley, to higher levels of exposure and infection from monkeypox,” said David Brinkman, DAP Health CEO. “At present, the state has focused its response on a region’s confirmed monkeypox cases as well as the number of early syphilis cases among men. These metrics are lagging indicators. They don’t capture where the exposure is occurring.  Because the data is captured at an individual’s local clinic, these metrics simply capture where an individual resides. This does nothing to prevent exposure or infection from occurring in the first place. Focusing on regions with high-risk factors is necessary to end this outbreak.”

The Biden Administration has declared monkeypox as a national public health emergency, and Gov. Gavin Newsom recently recognized it as a state emergency. However, because the current vaccine distribution model prioritizes large cities, and the national vaccine supply is limited, Coachella Valley communities are receiving far fewer doses than needed. For example, DAP Health, a leader in the local monkeypox response, has administered 648 vaccine doses to date. It expects delivery of another 292 doses this week. The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation has not received any vaccine doses.

“As a healthcare district, one of the most important things we did early on during our COVID-19 response was to remove every barrier that prevents equitable access to prevention and care,” said Conrado Bárzaga, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO. “That’s what we’re called to do without judgment or stigma. The lack of awareness by the state about our community and how it's vulnerable to the monkeypox virus is a tremendous barrier. We have to change it.”

Media requests can be sent to Will Dean with the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation, wdean@dhcd.org, and Steven Henke with DAP Health at SHenke@daphealth.org.

About the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation

The Desert Healthcare District is a local government agency formed in 1948. Its mission is to achieve optimal health at all stages of life for all District residents. The District includes more than 400,000 residents and encompasses the entire Coachella Valley. The District and Desert Healthcare Foundation, together, are one of the largest funders in the valley. These funds are used to assist residents — especially the underserved — in accessing vitally needed resources, such as primary and behavioral healthcare. Learn more at dhcd.org.

Learn more about DAP Health.

Monkeypox is an Emergency

A State of Emergency with a Solution: Prioritize LGBTQ+ Health Equity Today  

We went from 1 monkeypox case in May to 5,000+ preventable cases today. I am devastated by how many people are in horrific pain. Pain and suffering could have been avoided had the U.S. followed its own predictions and prepared to respond.

Since the 2003 U.S. monkeypox outbreak, experts predicted another. And as HIV and COVID taught us, an outbreak would dominate in marginalized populations who face barriers to health equity.   

We are now in a state of emergency as declared by WHO (World Health Organization) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.    

The emergency is the rapid spread, but that is not where the emergency ends:   

The emergency is that prior to this outbreak, the US had an effective monkeypox test, effective medications, and an effective vaccine, yet our highest-risk populations still do not have access to it.   

The emergency is that many people, presently infected with monkeypox, are experiencing severe pain; pain so significant that eating and eliminating waste requires pain medication and in some cases, hospitalization.  

The emergency is that even prior to this outbreak, organized political discrimination against LGBTQ+ populations has been steadily increasing.   

DAP Health was founded because many in power failed our community. While AIDS attacked us from one side, apathy, and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community slowed the response, leaving us alone with a virus that robbed us of loved ones.   

It took until July 23 for the WHO to declare monkeypox a global health emergency - stating it was partly because the disease had not moved out of the primary risk group, men who have sex with men. Sadly, it should come as no surprise the US response remains slow and inadequate for LGBTQ+ community members worried about contracting monkeypox and to the thousands of people who have already been diagnosed.   

The only reason the monkeypox virus has not been contained is that the U.S. has yet to treat this threat to the health of gay, bisexual, and transgender people as the health emergency it is. New York and San Fransisco, both early in the response to HIV and COVID, have declared a state of emergency. Like DAP Health, they have been here before and they know that now is the time for a coordinated and swift response.   

DAP Health, with a patient population of 10,000, has only received 497 doses of vaccine and has yet to receive the TPOXX medication for treatment. Our nation’s LGBTQ+ community health centers, with a history of treating the community’s physical and mental health; with expertise in addressing stigma and discrimination, are most likely to reach those at risk for monkeypox, and yet, we are being overlooked and under-resourced.    

There is a solution to this health emergency:  

LGBTQ+ organizations should be the priority for vaccine supply and medications for treatment; because our approach strengthens the LGBTQ+ community. To end monkeypox, we must confront the discrimination in the US that has enabled this preventable crisis.   

LGBTQ+ health equity goes beyond a “shot in the arm.”  Our approach addresses the health disparities faced by LGBTQ+ communities by incorporating free HIV and STI testing and treatment, free PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) services, and access to affordable primary care, mental health, and substance use recovery.   

Every one of us needs to do our part. Let our elected officials know there is NO EXCUSE for another week of cases doubling while people suffer in excruciating pain. Let our elected officials know we are in a state of emergency and that the time has come to prioritize LGBTQ+ health equity. 

Here is an update about how we are prioritizing the distribution of the doses received and how we continue to respond to the current health emergency.  

DAP Health administered all 160 doses provided in our first allotment from the Riverside Department of Public Health.  

On Friday, DAP Health received 337 additional doses. High-risk DAP Health patients and community members who fit the current priority guidelines received an invitation to schedule an appointment for the JYNNEOS vaccine.   

DAP Health’s monkeypox hotline launched on August 1, and we are adding invitation-only Saturday vaccine clinics beginning August 6.  

DAP Health MPX Hotline: 760-656-8432 or MPOX@daphealth.org   

To stay up to date on the latest developments regarding Monkeypox please visit our landing page: daphealth.org/monkeypox 

 

Reproductive Care is Health Care

The Intersection of LGBTQ Health Care and Reproductive Rights  

Prioritizing Patients Over Politics 

DAP Health is an advocacy-based humanitarian organization that believes women’s rights are human rights. Women played a critical role in our founding and continue to help lead our organization today. 

DAP Health stands in support of sexual and reproductive health care for women -- whether born cisgender, trans, non-binary, or lesbian.  

DAP Health supports a woman’s right to choose. We believe all women should receive access to health care tailored to their needs, not policies or politics. We believe that health care access for LGBTQ individuals and reproductive health care are uniquely linked because challenges to each are often based on political or ideological arguments that fail to prioritize patient-centered care. 

For 38 years, DAP Health has been advancing LGBTQ health care. First by focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, then on testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and most recently on gender-affirming care. We continue to expand our ability to provide culturally competent primary care and mental health care services.  

We see health outcomes improve when barriers like shame are removed. And we see the impact of anti-LGBTQ legislation on our community's mental health. We advocate for stigma-reducing person-centric language while providing patient-centered care, free from judgment. 

Access matters. According to the World Health Organization, lack of access to safe, affordable, timely, and respectful abortion care, and the stigma associated with abortion, pose detrimental risks to women’s physical and mental well-being throughout their lives.  

The Federal Policy Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Julianna Gonen, wrote in 2019: "The movements for reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality share deeply linked interests and concerns. We are all seeking control over our own bodies – the freedom to decide whether to become or remain pregnant, whether and with whom to have intimate relationships, and whether to seek medical care to help our bodies align with our gender identities. We seek the freedom to form our families on our own terms – to partner with and marry whom we love, to have children or not, and to live as our true selves as determined by us, not by someone else." 

The LGBTQ Community Finds Care at Reproductive Wellness Centers  

In Palm Springs, the LGBTQ community has enjoyed affirming health care at DAP Health since 1984. But in rural areas across California, and the nation, that same community often turns to reproductive wellness centers for judgment-free access to routine and preventative HIV and STI testing and treatment; gender-affirming care, and services related to reproductive healthcare.  

Roe v Wade and Marriage Equality  

We as a grassroots organization, founded in part because of denied access to health care and discrimination, firmly and ardently support the rights of every individual to make decisions based on their own personal needs. 

If the court does indeed overturn Roe v Wade, legal advocates say it has implications for other rights rooted in privacy, such as the rights pertaining to private sexual activity, and marriage equality.  

This includes the 2015 SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges ruling which affirmed that the Constitution grants same-sex couples equal protection and equal rights under the law. These rights cover access to employer-funded medical insurance coverage for same-sex couples and their dependents, family medical leave, and hospital visitation rights.  

Why DAP Health Focuses on Culturally Competent Care 

LGBTQ people experience worse health outcomes than the population overall due to barriers including high rates of health care discrimination, stigma, and humiliation; all of which are compounded by racism and poverty. 

Delayed preventive and medical care directly impact health outcomes for the LGBTQ community. Removing barriers to care while standing alongside our partners in reproductive health is the vital work that remains to be done to improve the health and well-being of everyone in our community. 

DAP Health Condom Club Continues Communi …

DAP Health’s Condom Club Continues Community Outreach 

February 14 is National Condom Day 

Ray Perea saw the darkest days of the AIDS crisis when he worked as a bartender in San Francisco from the 70s through the 90s, as AIDS claimed numerous friends and customers.  

Thanks to advancements in modern medicine, HIV has become manageable for people who have access to care and are preventable through viral load suppression and with medications like PEP and PrEP.  

But that does not mean a service like DAP Health’s Condom Club has become obsolete. In 2019, with more than 2.5 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases, STDs reached a record high in the US for the sixth consecutive year. STDs include syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. As recently as 2018, Palm Springs was facing a syphilis outbreak.  

For years, DAP Health has provided free condoms and lube packets throughout the Coachella Valley, at bars and resorts, as requested by business owners, says Alonso Gonzalez, a community health educator who leads the condom club.  

“I think it’s great that DAP Health has continued to provide this service to organizations that need it,” says Ray Perea, a Condom Club volunteer for 19 years. “And I’m glad to see the organizations out there, the bars and the resorts, still wanting the packets to hand out and keep people safe, and making them aware that it’s an issue, that it still exists.”  

Perea says he initially joined for two reasons. He moved to Palm Springs with his partner, and they were looking for a way to volunteer with DAP Health, then known as Desert AIDS Project.  

The Condom Club offered a perfect opportunity with a lively bunch of people that Perea says has been appealing.  

“The Condom Club has always been a fun group to work with,” Perea says. “It’s a good thing to do in terms of helping other people. The volunteers that go there, some of them have really interesting stuff and it’s always a fun group to just chit chat with.”  

Perea says another reason for volunteering is what he witnessed. “It is an ugly, ugly disease,” Perea says. “It was just a horrific disease to die from. It was not pretty.”  

Perea remembers when protease inhibitors first came out. There were so few available that patients had to go on a waiting list, or a lottery system.  

“That changed the whole picture of people surviving,” Perea says. “I had a friend who was ill, and he was put on the list. A short time later, he did pass away. And then there were a couple of other friends who were at death’s door. Luckily, they got the protease inhibitors and survived.” 

Gonzalez says the Condom Club is busy with the distribution. He estimates DAP Health distributed around 25,000 packets in 2021   and about 50,000 each year pre-pandemic.  

While HIV is not as dire as it was in the United States, Perea hopes people continue to take safe sex seriously, and use the free condoms provided to prevent the spread of HIV and STDs.   

Brothers of the Desert Empowering Black …

Brothers of the Desert Empowers Black Men and Allies in the Coachella Valley

On Feb. 7, Brothers of the Desert and Let’s Kick ASS will host a free online discussion, “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real – HIV and Black Gay Men.”

When chairperson Tim Vincent and the founders of Brothers of the Desert began their organization, it was a way to ensure black gay men would not feel isolated and have a group where they can bond. And in a short amount of time, Brothers of the Desert has emerged as a force in the Coachella Valley.  

Brothers of the Desert is a nonprofit that provides support for Black gay men and allies in the Coachella Valley through philanthropy, volunteering, mentorship, education, advocacy, and social networking.  

“When we were first meeting, we would go to a restaurant and there would be 10 of us and people would be like, ‘Is there a conference in town?’” Vincent says. 

One New Year’s Eve, they got together, and the group amounted to 20 men, all accomplished in different industries.  

“One person said, ‘This is nice that we are doing this.’ And looking around the room at who is in this group and what we have accomplished in our lives, we have a lot more to give than just socializing, hanging out, and connecting. Why don’t we make this a little more purposeful,” Vincent remembers. 

Since its birth in 2017, Brothers of the Desert has developed two signature events, the Wellness Summit in November, which DAP Health proudly sponsors, and the New Year’s Eve dinner-dance fundraiser. They also award scholarships to students and host a quarterly speaker series that covers topics such as practicing mindfulness, responding to systemic racism, acknowledging microaggression, and mental health and wellness for Black Queer communities.  

On Feb. 7, Brothers of the Desert and Let’s Kick ASS will host a free online discussion, “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real – HIV and Black Gay Men.” The special guest will be Corey Saucier, a Black queer HIV-positive poet, author, and playwright who will share some of his writings and his personal life story of living with HIV.  

The program will provide a retrospective on HIV in the Black Gay Community, updates on infection rates and treatment, testing and support groups, local resources, poetry reading, and music from Dr. Stephan Scoggins.  

“Vincent says Brothers of the Desert is creating a space for link-minded men in the desert, while also respecting the other organizations. Brothers of the Desert wants to be inclusive and supportive of its allies. 

“We want people to know that this is not an anomaly, that we are part of this community, and we are vital to this community,” Vincent says.  

Learn more about Brothers of the Desert by visiting their website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAP Health rolls out harm reduction prog …

DAP Health rolls out harm reduction program to provide care for people living with addiction 

Contact: Leighton Ginn                                  
Public Relations Specialist  
(760) 567-2983  

lginn@daphealth.org.    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

Program approved Jan. 10, 2022 by the California Department of Public Health 

This Spring, DAP Health will unveil its harm reduction program that will have two components. First, Overdose prevention and secondly a Syringe Services Program (SSP) that will include health services and behavioral health support to combat the rise in preventable overdoses and the increase in new HIV cases.  

The multi-layered program will focus on education for the community, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, distribution and collection of syringes and referrals to support folks through their addiction journey.  

Additional services to be provided: Naloxone/Narcan to reverse overdose and prevent death, and Fentanyl test strips for testing drugs before use to decrease likelihood of overdose.  

In the latest preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100,000 people in the U.S. died from overdoses during the 12-month period from April 2020 through April 2021. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm) 

In Riverside County, there has been an 800 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths since 2016, according to Rivco.org.  (https://www.rivco.org/news/riverside-county-committee-combat-fentanyl-abuse).  

Palm Springs has an overdose death rate 300 percent higher than the state average.  

Palm Springs Police Department Chief Andy Mills was able to review the harm reduction program and was impressed with how complete it is.  

“It’s important to remember the dynamics that go into a program like this,” Mills says. “That’s what excites me. Not only is DAP Health looking at helping people, but genuinely helping people so they are not destructive to themselves or our community.” 

DAP Health is only the second state certified Syringe Services Program (SSP) in Riverside County, which is the 10th most populated county in the United States.  

Because of the rising numbers, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Bacerra says the federal government supports harm reduction, which includes direct support and care to people who actively struggle with substance misuse.  

“DAP Health will begin deepening our relationship with people living with addiction by adding a harm reduction approach to our first-aid kit of solutions,” says C.J. Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness. “We will do this without stigma or judgment because you cannot treat someone who does not trust you. Harm reduction is an important tactic in DAP Health’s ongoing work to end the HIV epidemic.  Work that begins with meeting folks where they are.” 

Education  

  • Overdose prevention  
  • Safer injecting  
  • Risk reduction counseling  
  • Education to community partners  

Testing  

  • Free HIV/HCV testing  
  • Fentanyl strips for testing drugs before use to decrease likelihood of overdose  

Equipment  

  • Naloxone/Narcan to reverse overdose and prevent death  
  • Phone number and email to DAP Health for the community to report used syringes that need to be picked up and disposed of, or to request education related to harm reduction strategies at HarmReduction@DAPHealth.org or 760 992-0453. 
  • New syringes and intake/dispose of used syringes  
  • New injecting supplies  
  • Safer sex kits  
  • Safer smoking kits   

Referrals To 

  • Substance use counselors  
  • Outpatient Drug Free program DAP Health 
  • Local recovery and treatment centers  
  • DAP Health’s peer support specialist  
  • Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) for anyone with HIV and/or Hepatitis C for treatment  
  • Insurance enrollment and connection to health care and other social support services  
  • DAP Health’s Sexual Wellness Clinic (Orange Clinic) for STI testing and/or Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)  
  • Food and housing    

 

About DAP Health 

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, Calif., serving more than 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental health care, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab services. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.     

DAP Health opened one of California’s first COVID clinics and hotlines to offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP Health also is working to address the social determinants of health that are causing negative health outcomes during this pandemic, like food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation, and access to ongoing healthcare. 

DAP Health’s sexual health clinic offers STI testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) testing. DAP Health has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year — landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP Health exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.     

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.  

Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Tas …

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact: The Development Department Inc.

Phone Number:  760-669-3366

PSAMS@devdeptinc.com

Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force Launches Capital Campaign During World AIDS Day

November 30, 2021

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force is excited to announce that the AIDS Memorial Sculpture is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Palm Springs City Council recently unanimously approved the acceptance of the Sculpture to be placed in the new Downtown City Park. The Task Force has also partnered with DAP Health to provide a dedicated link to enable community members to help fund the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture, visit https://psaidsmemorial.org to donate and for more information.  

“December 1, World AIDS Day was chosen as the launch, as it signifies the remembrance of those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS and gives renewed hope that one day, the virus will be eradicated. It is our responsibility to remember their lives and to continue to tell their stories, so that they are never forgotten,” said Mike Richey, Co-Chair National AIDS Memorial. “AIDS has affected every community across the world, and it is for this reason that AIDS Memorials should be established to honor & remember those lost.”  

The Task Force’s vision is to provide the AIDS Memorial Sculpture as a gift to the City of Palm Springs and people of the Valley. Internationally acclaimed artist based in the Coachella Valley, Phillip K. Smith, III, has been commissioned to design the memorial, which will provide an opportunity for reflection, remembrance and hope once its placed in the new City of Palm Springs Downtown Park.

“The AIDS Memorial Sculpture will be a touchstone for unity, hope, grief, and healing in the Coachella Valley.  As a monolithic, singular stone sculpture, the carved surfaces will dance with light, shadow, and reflection.  Through rotating grooves cut into the gloss surface as matte marks signifying unity through struggle or the soft curve of undulating forms evoking healing over grief, this is a memorial to be touched, to be felt. It is a timeless, enduring landmark delicately placed on the land. It is heavy, but light -- lifting hope, lifting struggle, and lifting up what is important,” described Phillip K. Smith, III.

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force’s mission is to ensure the lives of those lost are never forgotten, and that their stories and lives are remembered into the future.  We also envision an opportunity to use this memorial as a means to educate the public about HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment options available to everyone who seeks information and to help direct individuals to resources available to them throughout the city, and the country.

The goal of the Task Force is to raise the necessary funds to support the creation, installation and ongoing resources to maintain this sculpture for generations to come.  Given the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on our community, we believe there will be great support for securing the necessary funds to make this AIDS Memorial Sculpture a reality. 

To help facilitate that fundraising goal, the Task Force has enlisted Paul Clowers and Ellen Wolf of The Development Department Inc. to lead the project. The Task Force has also partnered with DAP Health to act as the fiscal processing agent for donations which can be made by visiting daphealth.org/aids-memorial-fund. For addition information or donation assistance please contact The Development Department Inc. at PSAMS@DevDeptInc.com, call 760-669-3366, or visit https://psaidsmemorial.org

DAP Health Advocates for and Supports LG …

DAP Health Advocates for and Supports LGBTQ+ Community at Greater Palm Spring Pride 

DAP Health walked with pride alongside a bright progressive rainbow of other community organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community during the 35th Annual Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival.  The advocacy-based healthcare organization has provided community healthcare since 1984 and proudly sponsored this year's community stage which highlighted local talent. 

This year's Pride event drew tens of thousands of enthusiastic participants from around the globe who gathered in Palm Springs for a weekend of community, music, friends, and of course, the legendary Palm Springs Pride Parade which featured over 250 entrants this year. 

“It was overwhelming to be together again at this year’s parade,” says Nick Valenziano, DAP Health Manager of Executive Affairs.  Valenziano organized DAP Health’s participation in Pride this year alongside a committee made up of DAP Health employees.  “As I watched the street fill up with all the participants, it really hit me that I hadn’t been among the community in this way in such a long time.” 

DAP Health’s Pride Parade contingent returned to its advocacy roots this year inviting employees and supporters to carry signs that amplified the organization's commitment to health equity. Some of the signs read “No Stigma,” “Sex Work Is Work,” “Mental Health is Health”, “Black Lives Matter,” and “U=U”.   

DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing, Steven Henke explains.  “Our approach was to focus our messaging on the very real challenges faced by the communities we serve.  Stigma and shame remain barriers to health care for too many people living with HIV or mental health challenges.  The U=U campaign (undetectable equals untransmittable) aims to end the stigma around HIV that keeps too many people from getting tested for HIV or obtaining the care they need to stay healthy. At the end of the day, the message we wanted to deliver is that DAP Health welcomes all people. Period."    

“You could feel the energy moving in both directions, all of us greeting them and them waving back, shouting and clapping,” Valenziano said. “It was like we were all rediscovering humanity.”   

DAP Health’s Department of Community Health team provided education, counseling, and testing to hundreds of Pride goers who took advantage of free and confidential HIV testing, STI testing, PrEP consultations, and the condom bar offerings.  The message they delivered:  We offer judgment FREE testing and treatment.  

DAP Health's focus on sexual wellness remains on the forefront of a trend that has seen an increase in STI's 

CJ Tobe, Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness at DAP Health, explains "we’ve continued to see an increase in STIs through the COVID pandemic, but even more specifically in the last 6 months we’ve seen a significant increase in syphilis and gonorrhea.”   

DAP Health continues to offer free services in its Orange Clinic.  Free services include testing and treatment for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis;HIV and hepatitis C testing; andpre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP— treatments available for those at risk of coming into contact with HIV and those who may have already been exposed to it. 

The Orange Clinic provides anyone who tests positive for HIV with rapid start medication and links them to care. 

DAP Health offers free grief group for t …

DAP Health offers free grief group for those who've lost ones they love 

The holiday season is a time of joy, but it can also be a period of stress and anxiety for many of us—and even tinged with sadness if you're unable to spend it with family, or have recently lost someone special.  

Yet according to Dr. Jill Gover, DAP Health's Director of Behavioral Health, it’s normal to feel sad this time of year if someone has recently died. "Don’t pretend to be happy just because it’s the holiday season." 

To help people on their journey through what may be a difficult holiday season for them, DAP Health is offering "Grief’s Courageous Journey: A Bereavement Therapy Group." This free, 10-week program—which begins on December 1—has been designed to process grief and the loss of a loved one. Based on the workbook titled “Grief’s Courageous Journey,” Dr. Gover created a 12-week curriculum seven years ago when she was the Mental Health Director at the Scott Hines Mental Health Clinic @ The Center. "I had found the book was very helpful to grieving patients and I wanted to create a structured treatment protocol that would lend itself to group work," she says. 

The therapy group is limited to a maximum of 12 to 15 people (and can be as small as 6 participants) and is a "closed group," meaning the same people attend each week. "At the beginning, everyone reviews the confidentiality code and is asked not to discuss anything personal about group members outside of the group," says Dr. Gover. "Trust comes from sharing the therapeutic exercises and getting to know each other over time—and because it's a closed group that makes it easier to trust others."  

She goes on to say that, "This is a very specific, evidenced-based structured psycho-educational bereavement group that uses therapeutic exercises to help participants process their grief." So it's unlike regular group therapy which is not focused on a specific topic.  

"The therapeutic exercises help the group participants to identify and acknowledge their feelings, explore any survivor’s guilt, resentment or anger that might be stuffed away, provides opportunity to reflect on all aspects of the death, and then offers ways to move forward," explains Dr. Gover. 

The group will meet in person on Wednesdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in DAP Health's Behavioral Health Clinic. For more information, or to enroll, contact Ian Struthers, LCSW at 760-323-2118, extension 408. 

If you're unable to participate in the group, try to remember that the holidays don't have to be perfect. Dr. Gover has pointed out that it's vital to recognize that others are also experiencing holiday stress and depression. "I think it’s really important to be kind to yourself, reassess, and let go of perfectionistic, unrealistic expectations, and perhaps establish new rituals for the holidays this year that reflect who you are now." 

Revivals Back Alley Event 2021 Shines a …

Revivals Back Alley Event 2021 Shines a Light on Leather Community

This community is ready to start coming out again, and the numbers prove it.

The Revivals Back Alley After Dark event brought in $13,000.00 for patient services at DAP Health, more than double from last year’s, and $3,000 more than the team’s goal. In its first collaboration, co-sponsoring was Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert (PSLOD), a significant fundraiser for HIV and health equity in the Coachella Valley. PSLOD will also host Palm Springs Leather Pride Weekend, from October 28-31.

Event organizers and partners say After Dark’s healthy turnout is a sign that people are feeling safer and eager to re-connect with others.

“These sales numbers are unheard of,” says Revivals volunteer Mark Musin.

Eager for the hunt, 278 shoppers didn’t mind queuing up at the Palm Springs Revivals for almost three hours before doors opened at 6 p.m. More than 700 shoppers had made purchases by closing time.

Very little was left after two hours and more than 1,000 clothing items, including leather jackets, chaps, vests, and hats were scooped up.

It was easy for shoppers to fill containers with leather and other treasures after finding them neatly displayed on racks by friendly volunteers who offered sizing and selection advice. This included an impressive amount of revamped and shiny leather shoes and boots.

Check-out lines never stopped moving, and volunteers engaged customers to collect hangers and help guide them as they finished.

Volunteers Make the Difference

After Dark brought together 30 volunteers from all four Revivals stores, ten more compared to last year.

“We all like working together so much,” says Mark. “It was a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to see each other and even for some to meet for the first time.”

When Mark saw volunteers from other Revivals locations working so naturally with the Palm Springs team to straighten and restock items, plus help customers, he knew it was all worth the effort.

“It’s about the community they love to serve, and it’s the camaraderie they share,” he says. “It had them all joining in, and they did a great job!”

Saving Best Inventory for Back Alley Event

Leather themed clothing and gear is always costly, and many find exploring the subculture intimidating.  But at Revivals, shoppers were able to pick up leather chaps for $20 used, instead of $400 new. Leather jackets were plentiful and started at $10 instead of $500 new.

Harnesses, suspenders, and belts sold out in the first ten minutes.

Special toys for grownups, gay literature and nude magazines, movies,  and framed art that need new homes wind up at Revivals year-round. Saving them for an appropriate and safe venue like After Dark means that these items can be re-used, and members of this community continue to enjoy great care from DAP Health. 

The idea for Back Alley After Dark was born over three years ago as Revivals Stores took a stand on recycling and decided that tossing donations that were considered too racy was not an option. And the more Revivals talked to the community it serves, the more it learned this gently used merchandise is in demand in a valley where economic disparities abound.

“We live in a desert mirage of two valleys,” says Steven Henke, director of brand marketing at DAP Health and in charge of marketing and communications for Revivals. “There are lucky folks with great jobs, who can afford to buy new leather gear and brand new anything they want, and there are other folks who need to find things on a budget.”

With Revivals After Dark, anyone who wants to be part of the leather community or even just buy the look can find truly affordable deals, he says.

“That is so on-brand for DAP Health, because we are all about inclusivity, collaboration, and bringing folks together in a positive way,” Steven says.

Health remains the driving motivation for this event, with proceeds funding comprehensive medical care at DAP Health, including through Desert AIDS Walk, and a donation to PSLOD.

“We are so grateful for this collaboration with Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert,” says Steven. “We can’t wait to see what the future holds through partnering.”

More freedom this year to socialize

Thanks to vaccinations, masks, and a public eager to experience our Southern California fall, outdoor events like Desert AIDS Walk 2021 and Palm Springs Gay Pride 2021 will return to being “peopled” for the first time since the pandemic began.

And for largely indoor events like Palm Springs Leather Pride, safety protocols ensure everyone in attendance can enjoy and explore without forfeiting safety.

This is good news for a very in-person community beginning its social season. After more than 18 months of avoiding crowds, people want to see each other again.

“It’s becoming so nice to approach people whom I haven’t seen since the pandemic started, simply to say, ‘I’m happy you’re here still here’,” says Dan Smith, co-chair of Leather Pride Weekend.

Charitable PSLOD Helps Members Honor True Selves

Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert has raised and donated over $250,000.000 for HIV services and health equity in the Coachella Valley in its almost 30-year history. The organization is honoring more diversity within the LGBTQ population here, and Dan Smith, co-chair of Leather Pride Weekend, is ready.

“We’re really looking forward to re-inventing the club, including making it a place for everyone,” Dan says.

More inclusion for PSLOD means welcoming more people of color, more women, and more transgender folks as new members. It also means challenging longstanding assumptions about what it means to be “leather”.

According to Dan, if it isn’t about pursuing your own authenticity, it’s time to challenge your perception.

“There’s this idea that a leather person has to be male, macho, hairy, have a beard, and be gruff—the whole hyper masculine image,” he says.

The truth is that there is room for everyone, no matter what they look like, he says.

“I just want people to be who they are, and we all struggle with that.”

PSLOD is experiencing a surge itself with 12 new members joining in the last two months and counting.

“I don’t want anyone prevented from exploring the leather community,” Dan says. One of his trusted methods for helping first timers feel OK exploring new things is simple; be friendly. 

“I would rather step up our hospitality, rather than have someone come to an event and experience no one talking to them,” Dan says. “People are starving for some type of connection.”

Find out more about Palm Spring Leather Order of the Desert (PSLOD) and Palm Springs Leather Pride Weekend [October 28-31, 2021] here.

About Revivals

The very first Revivals store was opened in 1995, in a back corner of the Desert AIDS Project office on Vella Road. Since those earliest days, the funds raised through selling donated goods at Revivals has gone back to support comprehensive care at DAP Health, while also providing a great volunteer opportunity for those who wanted to support the organization with their time and retail talents. Today, all of the stores are largely volunteer-run, enabling Revivals to make a significant financial contribution to the annual budget of DAP Health.

About DAP Health

DAP Health (DAP) is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.  Click here to read more about our commitment to health equity.     

DAP opened one of California’s first COVID clinics and hotlines to offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP is also working to address social determinants of health that are causing negative health outcomes during this pandemic, like food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation, and access to ongoing healthcare. 

DAP’s sexual health clinic offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.     

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.