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Coping with the Holiday Blues in 2020

Coping with the Holiday Blues in 2020  

Palm Springs, CA (December 17, 2020) -- The holidays can be a difficult time, and this year COVID is compounding feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness for many in our community. Paying extra attention to our emotional health is important this holiday season, says Dr. Jill Gover, DAP’s behavioral health manager.  

“For many LGBTQ+ folks, the holiday season is a trying time, especially if you are estranged from your biological family,” says Dr. Gover.  “Many of us have opted for chosen family, and this year we cannot be with our chosen families, either.” 

Having a plan for how you will spend the holidays is important, even if you are isolating at home to keep safe. 

Get started by acknowledging your feelings. 

Feelings of discontent are normal but dwelling in denial is dangerous.  

It’s normal to feel sad if you cannot be with loved ones this year. It’s also normal to swing from feeling happy and excited about the holiday season, to feeling sad and disappointed.  

This year the holidays will definitely feel bittersweet,” says Dr. Gover, who wants to remind everyone: 

It’s important to express your sad feelings.  

If you don’t, says Gover, they can bottle up inside you. If you try to be stoic about it and you keep saying “it’s fine, it’s fine,” the difficult feelings will seep out in other ways that may be harmful to you.  

Don’t pretend to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.  

“It’s OK to acknowledge there’s some sadness here as well.” Celebrating the holidays will look different this year, and due to social isolation, stress and uncertainty around the pandemic, it’s a difficult time. 

This holiday season, things will be different, “and that’s OK,” says Dr. Gover. Her advice is: “Be realistic and let go of previous expectations.” 

Things to keep in mind: 

  • The holidays don’t have to be perfect 
  • It’s OK to change your annual ritual to reduce stress 
  • Recognize that the new normal is not the same as the old normal 

Strategies to work through the holiday season that anyone can use are: 

Set Aside Differences 

Accept family and friends as they are. Recognize that others are experiencing holiday stress and depression, too.  

Stick to a budget  

You don’t have to overspend to compensate for not being with the ones you love, especially if it will create a financial crisis later for you.  

Try these alternatives: 

  • Donate to charity- nonprofits need our help right now 
  • Give homemade gifts 
  • Instead of individual gifts for each family member, consider just one gift for the entire family to use together. This will reduce stress. 

Plan Your Holidays 

Decide how you want to spend your holidays“Think about how you want to spend the holidays now, so they don’t sneak up on you,” says Dr. Gover. “You don’t want to wake up on the special day and feel bereft.”  

If alone, plan to do something specialThis could include setting up a structured time for a Zoom visit with loved ones, taking a hike, watching the sunrise, or making a special meal 

Learn to Say No 

“It’s so important to set limits.” If you feel vulnerable or overwhelmed, it’s OK t to say “no” to an event. 

Set boundaries 

Stay away from people, places and things that are not emotionally or physically safe 

Keep healthy habits  

Don’t forfeit what you’ve been doing during this pandemic to keep yourself healthy.  

  • Get plenty of sleep 
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine  

Don’t Forget Seasonal Affective Disorder  

We are in the darker part of the year, with the days ending earlier. Less sunlight can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—health experts warn us that these symptoms are worsening due to the required isolating we all have to practice. Read more about SAD here 

Take a breather—create enough time for self-care.  

Give yourself downtime 

  • Take a walk 
  • Listen to soothing music 
  • Do a guided imagery relaxation 
  • Read a “fun” book 
  • Take a bath 
  • Play with your pet 
  • Meditate or do yoga 

About Therapy at DAP 

Desert AIDS Project is proud to offer in-person psychological services, as well as Virtual Visits and phone visits via your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  If you or someone you know would like to find out more about therapy at DAP, please call (760) 992-0450 or log on to daphealth.org. 

About Dr. Jill Gover 

Dr. Jill Gover leads a team of compassionate and competent California licensed clinical psychologists who are ready to help our community. 

Dr. Gover is passionate about social and environmental justice advocacy and LGBT political activism and she has volunteered with various political causes and campaigns such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, and Equality California. Learn more about Dr. Gover here. 

About DAP Health Center    

DAP Health Center (DAP) is a humanitarian health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 8,000 people, 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 health and wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.    

DAP’s sexual health clinic 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.    

Visitwww.desertaidsproject.orgto learn more.    

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Our Collective Wisdom Mobilizes Our Hope

Our Collective Wisdom Mobilizes Our Hope  

Weekend Wrap Message -- Saturday, December 12, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO  

Mobile Testing and Treatment Thanks to Direct Relief 

STI rates remain the highest they have been for California in three decades, and many in the Coachella Valley continue facing new barriers to care and treatment as COVID continues. But thanks to a generous award from Direct Relief, our Mobile Testing team will regularly bring STI testing and treatment directly to neighborhoods where we know the need is greatest for these services.  

This award also enables us to provide more STI testing and treatment at DAP in our sexual health clinic, staffed by DAP clinicians and following COVID health and safety protocolsDAP is the only California health center among 10 others nationwide that won the Innovation Awards in Community Health: Addressing Infectious Disease in Underserved Communities. You can read more here. 

Dr. Kerkar Distinguished by IDSA  

While COVID continues to complicate healthcare, DAP is taking a leadership position in this Valley, thanks to our medical team specialized in infectious diseases. Dr. Shubha Kerkar was given the top honor in her field when she was elected recently as a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the nation’s leading infectious diseases professional society. Dr. Kerkar helped us write the roadmap created during the worst years of the AIDS crisis, one that we apply today for patient care at DAP. You can read more here

DAP Talks: Volunteers  

Keeping about 200 volunteers rewarded during this time of historic uncertainty seems like it would be challenging, but the mission of DAP inspires so many that Marcie Lerner and Larry Naishtut, our volunteer services coordinators, are in good company when it comes to helping to keep our organization on track. Between the hunt for treasure at Revivals and serving 8,000 DAP patients through a variety of programs, there really is something for everyone if they want to get involved and give back with a gift of their time. You can listen here.  

Vaccinations: Winning Faith, Trust and C …

Vaccinations: Winning Faith, Trust and Credibility  

A look at the history of global pandemics 

By Shubha Kerkar MD, FIDSA, FACP, AAHIVS 

The possibility of control and eradication of the current global pandemic of coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) is now a distinct reality because of two promising vaccines that have shown safe and effective performance in preventing 95 percent of infections in preliminary data of phase 3 trials. 

How will these vaccines work? 

Vaccination prepares the human immune system to combat specific infections. In addition to the very basics, such as barriers to exposure with facial covering/masking, physical distancing and handwashing, vaccination is a powerful tool in the armamentarium of defenses against COVID-19.  

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are based on a novel platform using “messenger” RNA to create vaccines (mRNA). They do not use the live virus or even any particle of a virus. They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept.  

The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.  

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give our cells instructions to make a harmless piece of “spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the muscle cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. In a placebo-controlled clinical trial where 30,000 to 40,000 volunteers in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated groups, there was a total of 100 infections, five in the vaccinated group and 95 in the placebo group. All volunteers who received the vaccine experienced no serious side effects, thus proving safety and efficacy.  

What does history tell us? 

In the real world, however, vaccines are only as good as the ability to be accepted by everyone. Winning faith and trust in vaccines depends on the credibility of the doctors, scientists and experts, and their ability to educate and help calm fears.  Once accepted, then the details of how to administer to the entire world population are practical challenges.   

 History tells us that vaccine strategies have successfully eradicated some of the deadliest infections on Earth, including smallpox, polio and measles, in times of scarce resources. The concept of vaccination was first noticed by the famous Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796 when he gave “lymph fluid” obtained from a milkmaid who had cowpox to James Phipps and established that he developed protection from smallpox.   

 In 2020, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, a deadly disease causing global pandemic for thousands of years. Worldwide vaccination was carried out in an era of no computers, no internet, no easy overseas transportation – all on foot – and simply targeting the worlds population one person at a time.  Of course, now, the challenges are different. 

What are we seeing today? 

Today, as I look around, not everyone is willing to accept vaccination as a silver lining in the dark cloud of this global pandemic. Perhaps there is no clarity, only doubt and mistrust, due to misinformation filtering through the current geopolitical scene, civil conflicts and social media, thus creating confusing layers. 

I remind all to look back in history: When Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine, 70 million mothers stood in line to get their children vaccinated – even before the benefits were confirmed.  Infantile paralysis was a devastating condition seen every year prior to that. Thanks to the polio vaccine – and the trust in that vaccine  today, it is part of childhood vaccination, providing 100 percent effectiveness in preventing polio. 

It is not just us here in the valley, our state or county. We must focus and be part of collaborative international cooperation and the contribution of global intelligence and unite in celebrating this great discovery. We must educate ourselves, gather all the courage and will to educate and counsel each other, and slowly win faith and trust in the possibility of prevailing in this battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Kerkar is director of infectious diseases at Desert AIDS Project and an infectious disease consultant at Desert Regional Medical Center and Eisenhower Health. For more information on vaccinations visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines. 

Image of DAP care provider

Shubha Kerkar, MD, MS

Physician, FACP, AAHIVS, FIDSA

Shubha has been performing infectious disease consultation since 1991 and has the distinction of having been a part of DAP since 1993 when she joined us as a part-time infectious disease consultant. Her practice is primarily focused on inpatient or hospitalized patients at both Desert Regional Medical Center and Eisenhower Health where she cares for individuals with serious infectious diseases. Once these patients recover and leave the hospital they continue on their path to a healthier life by transitioning to Shubha's office-based skilled management program at DAP. Click here to learn more about Dr. Kerkar.

Dr. Shubha Kerkar: IDSA Fellowship is To …

Dr. Shubha Kerkar: IDSA Fellowship is Top Accolade  

Media Contact: 
Jack Bunting 
(760) 323-2118 
[email protected] 

(Palm Springs, CA) December 10, 2020 -- Shubha KerkarMD, FIDSA, was given the top honor in her field when she was elected recently as a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the nation’s leading infectious diseases professional society. This accolade helps shine a spotlight on her decades of service to people with HIV (PWH) in the Coachella Valley, beginning in the early 1990s, when mortality rates were much higher. 

“I am delighted, and I feel appreciative of this recognition,” said Dr. Kerkar. “I recognize that I walk this path of success, together with all, and not alone.” 

Today as COVID presents similar challenges for patients and health care workers to navigate, she continues making a substantial contribution to public healthDr. Kerkar is Director of Infectious Diseases at DAP and Desert Regional Medical Center, and an infectious diseases consultant at Eisenhower Health.  

Dr. Kerkar helped us write the roadmap created during the worst years of the AIDS crisis, one that we apply today for patient care at DAP,” said David Brinkman, CEO. “While COVID continues to complicate healthcare, her expertise in infectious diseases is matched only by her leadership and compassion for others.” 

Fellowship in IDSA is the highest honor in the field of infectious diseases. It is given to those who have achieved professional excellence and provided significant service to the profession.  

“Infectious diseases specialists have trained their entire careers to step up to the plate during a crisis such as the one we face today with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said IDSA President Barbara Alexander, MD, MHS, FIDSA. “ID physicians and scientists are working on the front lines of every aspect of this outbreak, from treating patients to developing and studying diagnostics and therapies to working on vaccines. They are also preparing for the next outbreak and protecting individual and public health.” 

As COVID vaccines are nearing release, Dr. Kerkar is quick to point out that public trust in any vaccination is the first hurdle in widespread adoption. She and her peers play a big role.  

“Winning trust in the vaccines depends on the credibility of the doctorsscientistsand experts who must act now to educate and work to calm fears around safety and efficacy,” said Dr. Kerkar. “Once accepted, then the details of how to administer to the entire world population are practical challenges. 

You can watch Dr. Kerkar describe the early days of HIV when she accepted the 100 Women Award from Barbara Boxer at the 2018 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards here. 

Applicants for IDSA Fellowship must be nominated by their peers and meet specified criteria that include continuing identification with the field of infectious diseases, national or regional recognition, and publication of their scholarly work. Nominees are reviewed and elected by the IDSA Board of Directors. Fellows of IDSA work in many different settings, including clinical practice, teaching, research, public health and health care administration. You can read more here. 

About the Infectious Diseases Society of America 

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is a community of over 12,000 physicians, scientists and public health experts who specialize in infectious diseases. Our mission is to improve the health of individuals, communities, and society by promoting excellence in patient care, education, research, public health, and prevention relating to infectious diseases. 

About DAP Health Center   

DAP Health Center (DAP) is a humanitarian health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 8,000 people, 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 health and wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.   

DAP’s sexual health clinic 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.   

Visitwww.desertaidsproject.orgto learn more.   

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DAP Increasing Mobile STI Program Thanks …

DAP Increasing Mobile STI Program Thanks to Direct Relief and The Pfizer Foundation 

Media Contact:
Jack Bunting
[email protected]
(760) 323-2118

(Palm Springs, CA) December 10, 2020 -- STI rates remain the highest they have been for California in three decades, and many in the Coachella Valley continue facing new barriers to care and treatment as COVID continues. But with a recent award from Direct Relief, DAP’s Mobile Testing team will bring STI testing and treatment directly to neighborhoods where the need is greatest for these services.  

DAP will also use the award to provide more STI testing and treatment at the DAP campus in its sexual health clinic, staffed by DAP clinicians and following COVID health and safety protocols. DAP is the only California health center among 10 others nationwide winning the Innovation Awards in Community Health: Addressing Infectious Disease in Underserved Communities.  

“We are grateful to Direct Relief and The Pfizer Foundation for this generous award for our Mobile Testing program,” said David Brinkman, DAP CEO. “Together we can address areas of need in our community for STI testing and treatment that that been complicated by COVID.” 

The award is intended to support innovative approaches to infectious disease education, screening, testing, treatment, and care. The awards program is implemented by Direct Relief and is funded by The Pfizer Foundation. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing systemic health inequities, resulting in vulnerable patients and their loved ones experiencing even greater hardship," said Caroline Roan, President, The Pfizer Foundation and Chief Sustainability Officer, Pfizer Inc. "We are proud to support Direct Relief and its network of frontline safety-net clinics across the U.S. to break down barriers to good health in underserved communities and increase access to life-saving infectious disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care." 

“These awards are intended in part to allow providers to test and improve new care models and solutions, which is of utmost importance as healthcare is drastically changing due to COVID-19,” said Thomas Tighe, CEO and President of Direct Relief. “We are humbled by the dedication of these largely unheralded safety-net health providers to improve the lives and health of the people they care for.” 

About The Pfizer Foundation 
The Pfizer Foundation is a charitable organization established by Pfizer Inc. It is a separate legal entity from Pfizer Inc. with distinct legal restrictions. The Foundation’s mission is to promote access to quality healthcare, to nurture innovation, and to support the community involvement of Pfizer colleagues. 

About Direct Relief 

A humanitarian organization committed to improving the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies, Direct Relief delivers lifesaving medical resources throughout the world to communities in need—without regard to politics, religion, or ability to pay. For more information, please visit https://www.DirectRelief.org. 

About DAP Health Center 

DAP Health Center (DAP) is a humanitarian health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 8,000 people, 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 health and wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.  

DAP’s sexual health clinic 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.  

Visitwww.desertaidsproject.orgto learn more.  

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DAP On World AIDS Day 2020: Hope Begins …

Media Contact: 
Jack Bunting 
(760) 323-2118 
[email protected] 

DAP On World AIDS Day 2020: Hope Begins with Health 

(Palm Springs, CA) December 1, 2020 -- DAP marks World AIDS Day 2020 by remembering the millions we have lost globally to AIDS, and by renewing our commitment to offer care and services that enable people with HIV (PWH) to live their best lives. When COVID arrived, we immediately fortified our HIV care program so that our patients would remain connected to care and receiving specialized services. We also increased options for anyone in our community to access prevention and testing for HIV. You can read more about our COVID Response here. 

Globally, 38 million people today are living with HIV. And since the pandemic began, about 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Here in the Coachella Valley, new cases of HIV continue to dramatically outpace other parts of California (CDC). 

Hope Begins with Health is our battle cry as we fight to continue care for PWH, as COVID continues to challenge us like nothing before.  

COVID is presenting unique challenges for PWH, increasing the need for our services.  

They are:  

  • Increased health problems from increased isolation, fear and anxiety, 
  • A higher risk of joblessness, food insecurity, and homelessness. 

 “Our roots are deep from the lessons of compassionate care that the AIDS crisis taught us,” says David Brinkman, CEO. “From those roots we learned the importance of health equity for all and COVID is calling on us to pay those lessons forward. 

Using our knowledge, compassion, and infrastructure for the greater good, we are committed to the dual purpose of continuing to care for our 8,000 clients while also supplying support to all those in our community affected by the pandemic. 
 
New HIV Testing Set-Up on Old Turf 

Palm Springs Revivals, a location steeped in DAP history, will once again serve as the backdrop for bringing people closer to their health. The community will start noticing DAP’s Mobile Testing Van, with staff dispensing anonymous HIV tests that are self-administered at home. Follow up and linkage to care is always offered with testing from DAP, and we are answering our patients calls for additional ways of HIV testing, accessible in more places.  A $10 gift card will be offered with each test. 

Decades ago in the same complex, a group of off-duty medical professionals would meet AIDS patients at night to administer treatments in an era when HIV was still a mystery and conventional healthcare providers in the area were forbidden from treating people with AIDS. This was the beginning of Desert AIDS Project. 

Everyday Heroes 2020: Honoring Valley Leaders 

Each year on World AIDS Day, DAP bestows the title of Everyday Hero to humanitarians in our Valley leading the way to help people thrive with HIV, and to help prevent new infections.  

COVID is not stopping us from honoring the following Everyday Heroes for 2020: Dr. Terri Ketover and Dr. Tom Truhe. 

We honor them for their years of dedicated service and generous contributions of their passion, time and talents to DAP, and thousands of lives touched by their incredible leadership.  

Familiar Worries for Long Term Survivors  

Danny Kopelson serves on DAP’s Client Advisory Board and considers himself as thriving with HIV, although living during a second major pandemic for him is full of reminders of the hardest days of HIV he survived 

When COVID was identified as a deadly virus, that immediately triggered a 40-year-old nightmare,” Danny says. “The bleak memories of AIDS in the 80s and 90s flooded into my head.” 

“Much of the language being used related to COVID is exactly the same as with AIDS,” says Danny.  

Familiar phrases and keywords can include testing positive or negative, antiretrovirals, antibody, resistance, viral loads. 

“This is not an everyday conversation, so hearing it on the news immediately takes me back to the past.” 

As life during COVID becomes a reality, keeping Virtual Visits with doctors and using Zoom meetings for wellness services and groups are keeping life open for Danny and others. 

“I’ve started to feel more hope,” he says. “I’ve gone back to doing yoga, meditating, volunteering and being in regular contact with family and friendsmasked, distanced and with Zoom. 

If you or anyone you know needs information about HIV treatment or prevention, visit daphealth.org. 

About DAP Health Center 

DAP Health Center (DAP) is a humanitarian health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 8,000 people, 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 health and wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area. 

DAP’s sexual health clinic 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. 

Visitwww.desertaidsproject.org to learn more. 

More HIV Care with Updated HIVMA Guideli …

Media Contact:
Jack Bunting
[email protected]
(760) 323-2118

More HIV Care with Updated HIVMA Guidelines

Dr. Tulika Singh noticing more equity in HIV care

(Palm Springs, CA) November 12, 2020 – Significant additions to nationally accepted HIV care guidelines will help more patients receive excellent care, and will help stop new infections, according to Dr. Tulika Singh, DAP director of research.

The HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America updated its care guidelines for people with HIV (PWH). DAP’s Dr. Singh was one of only eight co-authors who worked on this important resource that will have a national impact on PWH. This is the first update since 2013.

“It is a one-stop shop for primary care guidance for all HIV clinicians!” says Dr. Singh. “Patients benefit when they get the best care.”

Significant additions in four areas address vital health issues facing PWH, and the teams caring for them. They include:

  • guidance for physicians treating transgender and non-binary patients with HIV,
  • leveraging Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) as part of patient education,
  • care for aging with HIV over 50, and
  • care standards for rapid start antiretroviral treatment.

DAP Health is an established authority in these areas, offering patients access to excellent and compassionate care, regardless of insurance. These updated HIV primary care guidelines used by thousands of clinicians in the U.S. will enable better care for patients, even if they never come to DAP.

“This will help clinicians all over who might need more experience and resources in these areas,” says Dr. Singh.

Transgender and Non-Binary Patients Added

This is the first time these guidelines approach HIV care for transgender and non-binary patients, a group disproportionately affected by HIV and who face extra barriers in healthcare.

“HIV care for transgender and non-binary patients is special, and it needs to be treated so,” says Dr. Singh, who was the second lead for this section of the report.

According to a study by UC Riverside, only 15% of transgender and non-binary individuals reported it was easy to find a provider with sufficient knowledge and experience on issues related to transgender people.

“Education and experience in this area are helpful to reduce bias, and that is important,” says, Dr. Singh. “We want to establish trust and enable transgender and non-binary patients to be fully engaged in their care.”

U=U and Rapid Start ART

Other important affirmations affecting health outcomes for PWH include treatment as prevention, starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon after an HIV diagnosis as possible, and aging with HIV.

Even though effective HIV treatment reduces the level of HIV to "undetectable" levels and makes PWH incapable of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners, many clinicians are not sharing this information with PWH. These guidelines address U=U as well as the stigma it can prevent.

According to the update:

“Clinicians should emphasize that adherence to antiretrovirals not only improves the patient’s health but prevents HIV transmission to others. Undetectable = Untransmittable messaging is welcomed and encouraged by communities with HIV and should be part of routine messaging in the clinic as a means to mitigate stigma. The primary reason for treatment failure, particularly among patients who take initial regimens, is suboptimal adherence to care or treatment regimens.”

Dr. Singh says how quickly patients start ART also affects transmission rates and points to why doctors haven’t been as effective they’d like in stopping new cases.

“Despite having extensive experience in HIV treatment and care, caregivers struggle to reduce high HIV prevalence and rising HIV incidence rates, due to delays in starting ART,” Dr. Singh says. “This is due to previous protocols and practicing traditional HIV medicine.”

DAP recently won designation as a Rapid ART Implementation Site, standing with just 10 other healthcare organizations in the U.S. The Award for Special Projects Of National Significance was won in a competitive grant process and is bestowed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Read more here.

About Desert AIDS Project

DAP Health (DAP) is a humanitarian healthcare organization in Palm Springs, CA offering 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 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.

For more information, visit www.desertaidsproject.org

About U=U & Prevention Access Campaign

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

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

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Uncovering New Reasons for Hope

Uncovering New Reasons for Hope  

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, October 31, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO 

Gratitude for a successful Desert AIDS Walk 2020 

COVID could not stop Desert AIDS Walk 2020, as this community laced up last weekend and walked to end HIV, support our COVID Clinic, and increase healthcare equity for all. With some slight reimagining, this community came together for the tradition safely and with a lot of love. 

We are so thankful to everyone who walked this year, as well as our sponsors who supported us.  

Sandie Newton hosted an NBC Palm Springs special broadcast featuring reasons this event is more important than ever. And to keep with tradition, you can hear the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performing the opening song, beautiful rendition of “Rise Again”. 

Preventing Flu During COVID 

With a third wave of COVID upon us while flu season is also starting, many risk becoming co-infected with both viruses if they have not received their influenza vaccination.  

“It’s an especially important year to get your flu vaccine, says to Dr. David Morris, our chief medical officer. He and his team are concerned about our hospitals becoming overwhelmed with cases that could be prevented with a flu shot. Anyone who is interested in talking to someone about COVID and the flu should call our COVID Hotline at (760) 992-0407You can learn more in this DAP Talks.  

DAP Study: One Shot Every Two Months for Viral Suppression 

For some PLWHA, taking medication in pill form every day is difficult, and it can cause poor adherence that harms their health and puts others at risk. DAP Health is committed to offering more options for antiretroviral treatment (ART), and we are one of the few health centers in the U.S. working on a study using only six ART injections per year for viral suppression, with ViiV Healthcare. You can read more here

Desert AIDS Walk 2020 Is This Weekend

Desert AIDS Walk 2020 Is This Weekend

Media Alert

What:              Desert AIDS Walk 2020 is this weekend.

When:             Saturday and Sunday, October 23 & 24, 2020.

Where:            Online plus walk routes in Palm Springs and surrounding desert cities.

How:                Go to desertaidswalk.org for information and registration.

Why:                DAP needs community support for programs that offer our community:

          • Healthcare Access for All 
          • HIV/AIDS Education, Prevention & Care 
          • COVID-19 Clinic 

Health & Wellness Virtual Forum
Brought to you by Walgreens

Learn more about DAP's programs and services, our sponsors, and community partners. Since we can't inform, educate, and entertain in person we created a virtual forum for you to learn more about DAP's programs and services, our dedicated community sponsors, and the extended work of our partners. We'll send you a link before the virtual doors open.

Multiple Ways to Walk your Walk

We invite you to walk the familiar route that traditionally kicks off at Ruth Hardy Park where you might see a few surprises, but there are so many wonderful parks and trails across the Coachella Valley, why not visit one or more. Walking is good for the heart and soul. Click here to download the Ruth Hardy route. Suggested parks and trails in other neighborhoods include:

Demuth Park (Palm Springs)

Panorama Park (Cathedral City)

Guy J. Tedesco Park (Desert Hot Springs)

Michael S. Wolfson Park "Butler-Abrams Trail" (Rancho Mirage)

Civic Center Park (Palm Desert)

Bagdouma Park (Coachella)

South Jackson Park (Indio)

Capture and share your HOPE

Along the way there are plenty of opportunities for walkers to safely take selfies, like at new art installations, or designated stops to say hello to local businesses—all with the intention of sharing messages of HOPE via social media. 

In many ways, Desert AIDS Walk has always been virtual.  When it began thirty-four years ago, the first organizers say they did not know if the community would support it, but they knew the only way forward was together. Support from was instant, and their HOPE started to grow.  

 When walkers register, they will be given three clear reasons to walk in 2020:   

    • Healthcare Access for All 
    • HIV/AIDS Education, Prevention & Care 
    • COVID-19 Triage Clinic 

The reason for the Walk has never really been about balloon arches or walker t-shirts. It’s always been about the collective power of community and our shared vision of a future where everyone has the comprehensive care that they need to live their best lives.    

Desert AIDS Walk Paved Way For COVID Response

Because of community support, DAP developed the services needed to respond to the AIDS epidemic while creating a patient-centered model of care that helps people with HIV. 

Thirty-four years of walking created the roadmap DAP used to quickly open a COVID-19 Triage Clinic, which has provided testing and respiratory treatment to almost 3,500 residents since the pandemic began. Together we are boldly applying lessons from our past to today's crisis.  

 
Desert AIDS Project CEO, David Brinkman explains: "By opening one of California's first COVID clinics, DAP made a choice.  We are survivors; fear cannot rule us; when crisis sets it, we step forward."  

  • We have the ability to end epidemics, including HIV and COVID 
  • We integrate Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment as critical components of Primary Care 
  • We address Social Determinates of Health, including racism and poverty, through our inclusive model of healthcare. 

With the ongoing courage and support of this community, our organization thrives.    

The AIDS crisis left unhealed wounds and it’s understandable that we may resist leaving our comfort zone.  But AIDS taught us a community response is the most effective response.  It taught us that we cannot turn our backs when communities are in need and in fear, that we must remember our humanity and the gift of giving back and be there to help.   

And as we’ve learned through our recent human rights and health equity movements, equality cannot be experienced by one until it is experienced by all.     You can find out more at www.DesertAIDSWalk.org.  

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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2020 Election California Ballot Proposit …

2020 Election California Ballot Propositions

  • Is an Uber/Lyft driver entitled to vacation pay, sick leave?
  • Does a dialysis center need a physician on staff?
  • If in inherit property from my parents, what is my property tax base?
  • If I’m arrested do I need to pay CASH bail?

All these questions and more are on the 2020 California ballot under citizens initiatives (or Propositions).  Often confusing and misleading titles, CA is infamous for these initiatives and it’s up to YOU to votes YEA or NAY.  Attached is a simple (I hope) explanation for each initiative (completely non-partisan) to help inform you when you complete your ballot.

As a reminder, ALL registered voters in CA will receive a mail-in ballot NEXT WEEK!  If you changed addresses in 2020 you will need to register. Voter registration deadline is October 19th!  If you would like additional information on any of the propositions, please call or email me. 

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE (and sign your ballot when/if you mail it in).

Prop 14 Stem Cell Bond Issue

What

Background

Issues $5.5 Billion in bonds for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) "stem cell"

In 2004 voters approved Prop 71 which created CIRM and $3Billion in funds for stem cell research. Only $132M in funds remain

YES vote=

Supports issuing a $5.5B General Obligation Bond for the state's stem cell research institute for diseases such as: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia.

NO vote=

Opposes issuing $5.5B bond

Prop 15 Tax on Commercial/Industrial Properties [NOTE: This DOES NOT affect residential properties at all]

What

Amends the state constitution to require commercial and industrial properties (except agricultural) to be taxed on their fair market value.

Background

In 1978 Prop 13 put a cap on residential, commercial and industrial properties taxed based on purchase price. The tax increase is limited to 1% of the original purchase price with annual adjustment equal to inflation or 2% (whichever is lower). This bill would maintain the property tax cap for residential properties ONLY. The increased revenues to the state would be directed to education and public health. Expected revenue benefit of $8B - $12.5B per year.

YES Vote =

Support constitutional amendment commercial and industrial properties would be taxed at CURRENT fair market value rather than original purchase price.

NO Vote =

Opposes constitutional amendment and maintain current property tax at original purchase price.

Prop 16 Repeal Proposition 209 (1996) Affirmative Action Amendment

What

Amends the state constitution by repealing Prop 209 (1996) by allowing government decision-making policies to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin to address diversity in the operation of public employment, education or contracting.

Background

In 1996 stated that discrimination and preferential treatment were prohibited in public employment, public education and public contracting on account of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

YES Vote =

Repeals Prop 209 (1996) and allows government to use race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin to address diversity in public employment, education and/or contracting.

NO Vote =

Opposes constitutional amendment and maintains current practice of NOT using race, sex, color, etc. in public employment, education and/or contracting.

Prop 17 Voting Rights Restoration for Paroles

What

Amends the state constitution to allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote

Background

Currently people on parole for felonies are disqualified from participating from voting until imprisonment and parole are completed. If passed, felons who are on parole would be able to vote.

YES Vote =

Amends state constitution to allow felons on parole to vote.

NO Vote =

Opposes constitutional amendment and prevents people on parole for felony convictions from voting.

Prop 19 Property Tax Transfers

What

Changes the rules for tax assessment transfers. Allows "eligible" (over 55-years-old, disabled, victims of natural disasters) homeowners to transfer tax assessment to different home of the same or lower fair market value - thus allowing them to move without paying higher taxes.

Background

Currently grandparents and/or parents can transfer primary residential properties to their children or grandchildren without the property tax assessment resetting to market value.

YES Vote =

Increases property tax to fair market value on inherited property tax if not used for primary residence.

NO Vote =

Opposes the constitutional amendment and maintains property transfer without upward adjustment of property tax.

Prop 20 Criminal Sentencing, Parole and DNA Collection

What

Amends several criminal sentencing and supervision laws. Specific type of theft and fraud crimes (firearm theft, vehicle theft, unlawful use of credit card) as felons rather than misdemeanors.

YES Vote =

Supports initiative to add crimes to the list of violent felonies; also requires DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.

NO Vote =

Opposes initiative to add crimes to list of violent felons.

Prop 21 Local Rent Control

What

Allows local governments to enact rent control

Background

In 1995 a law (Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act) was passed allowing landlords to increase rent prices to market rates after a tenant moves out. This measure would replace Costa-Hawkins. Additionally, in 2018 voters rejected Prop 10 which would have allowed local governments to adopt rent control on any type of rental housing. [AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) was behind Prop 10 and also sponsors Prop 21]

YES Vote =

Allows local governments to enact rent control on housing first occupied over 15 years ago (with exception for landlords who own less than 2 homes).

NO Vote =

Opposes ballot initiative, thereby continuing to prohibit rent control on housing first occupied after 2/1/95.

Prop 22 App-Based Drivers/Independent Contractors (UBER/LYFT)

What

App-based drivers (e.g. Uber/Lyft) to be considered Independent Contractors and NOT employees.

Background

In 2019 AB 5 passed which defined Independent Contractors based upon a 3-prong test: a)worker is free from company control; b)work done is not in the company's usual course of business; and c) worker engaged in established trade, business of same nature as work performed. [Basically, the state made it very difficult for someone to be an Independent Contractor based upon the idea the employers were taking advantage of independent contractors by now calling them employees and thereby forgoing sick time, vacation pay, etc.]

YES Vote =

Defines app-based drivers as Independent Contractors (the way things are currently)

NO Vote =

Opposes ballot initiative deferring to AB 5 to decide whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors

Prop 23 Dialysis Clinic Requirements

What

Requires dialysis clinics to have at least one licensed physician to be present (or nurse practitioner or PA if shortage of doctors); report data on dialysis related infections to state health dept.; prohibits closing dialysis clinic without state approval; prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on source of payment for care.

Background

In 2018, voters rejected Prop 8 which would have required dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients for profits in excess of 115% of the cost of direct patient care. Prop 8 was sponsored by SEIU labor union and pitted them against DaVita the largest private dialysis provider in the area. SEIU supports Prop 23 also.

YES Vote =

Requires dialysis clinics to have physician (or functional equivalent) on site; report infections to state department of health and notify state before closing.

NO Vote =

Opposes ballot initiative and keeps things as they are

Prop 24 Consumer Personal Information Law

What

Expands consumer data privacy laws. Prevents businesses from sharing personal information; allows for consumer correction of inaccurate personal information; limits businesses' use of "sensitive personal information" including geolocation; race; ethnicity; religion sexual orientation, etc.

Background

In 2018 SF developer, Alastair Mactaggart, filed a similar measure but withdrew it after the legislature passed the California Consumer Privacy act of 2018 (CCPA). Mactaggart wants to expand the CCCPA with additional rights. Furthermore, ballot initiatives cannot be amended without the approval of the voters.

YES Vote =

Expands consumer data privacy laws including provisions to allow consumers to direct businesses NOT to share their personal information and creates the Privacy Protection Act to enforce consumer data privacy laws

NO Vote =

Opposes ballot initiative, things stay as they are now.

Prop 25 Cash Bail vs. Risk Assessment

What

This is a "Repeal Referendum" which would overturn the existing "risk assessment" method used by California courts (in place of cash bail) and return to a cash bail system.

Background

In 2018 SB 10 was signed into law by Gov. Brown. SB 10 made California the first state to end cash bail for all detained suspects awaiting trial. In the alternative to cash bail, a "risk assessment" is used to determine whether a detained suspect should be granted pretrial release and under what conditions. This initiative is a "VETO REFERENDUM" to overturn SB 10. The backers are primarily the bail bond companies. [There are an overabundance of moving parts here. But the bottom line is to use an alternative to cash bails. On the one hand, the bail bond companies obviously want to return to cash bail; on the other hand, many civil liberty organizations do not like the "risk assessment" tool currently in place; many consider it racially biased and left to the discretion of judges. However, this referendum does not offer an alternative to cash bail].

YES Vote =

Upholds SB 10 which replaced cash bail with a risk assessment.

NO Vote = 

Repeals SB 10 returning to cash bail system.