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Aging Positively Conference Offers Hope

Aging Positively Conference Offers Hope

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, October 10 From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

Over half of people living with HIV in the United States are 50 or older (CDC), and they often experience age-related illnesses earlier. COVID has compounded this as we see loneliness, depression, and PTSD become more prevalent.

We have the resources to help PLWHA thrive, and this year’s Aging Positively Conference is filling an important need for information and connection during COVID. DAP clinicians will be presenting topics for practical hope and living during COVID: addressing HIV treatment, coping with isolation, and even advice on dating. 

We are looking forward to hearing long-term HIV survivor and Broadway star of Hamilton, Javier Muñoz, share how he is using his passion and creativity to make a huge difference with Broadway Relief.

You can join this virtual conference from the safety of your home on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To find out more, click here.

Community Health Team Is Standing Up to COVID

COVID fear has many people skipping periodic STI screenings and sometimes, even basic self-care like eating and keeping warm. Sanitized and souped-up, our mobile testing van is in business and ready to bring testing, treatment, and linkage to care to those most at risk. C.J. Tobe, director of community health described his team’s efforts for improving public health during COVID. You can hear him in this week’s DAP Talks.

DAP In the News

We’re All In It Together: Desert AIDS Walk 2020

As the need for our services grows, sources for funding them are dwindling, especially with COVID. This year has challenged us and all humanitarian organizations in ways we could not have imagined. Our Board Chair Patrick Jordan talked to NBC Palm Springs anchor Thalia Hayden about why Desert AIDS Walk 2020 is more important than ever. You can watch here.

COVID Can’t Stop DAP STI Testing and Treatment

If we let the pandemic get in our way to end HIV and STIs in this Valley, we will only be compounding the tragedy of COVID. Over decades of doing this work, we have learned that to educate, test, and treat always strengthens public health, and it requires meeting our patients in ways that work for them. C.J. Tobe talked to Maria Sestito at The Desert Sun about the rise in testing and treatment for some STIs, and the need to remove stigma from sex during COVID. You can read more here.

2020 Voter Information

2020 Voter Information

Due to the pandemic, all Californians with active voter registrations will automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot. Elections offices will send out vote-by-mail ballots by October 5. Confirm your registration to make sure elections officials have your current mailing address and language preference.

You can also vote in person in all Southern California counties. Below is a summary of your options to cast a ballot this November. Find more information below about your county.

Cast Your Vote-by-Mail Ballot

Casting your vote-by-mail ballot will allow you to vote safely and will reduce crowding at polling locations or vote centers for individuals who need to or prefer to vote in-person. You can return a completed vote-by-mail ballot on or before Election Day by:

  • Mailing it to your local elections office Mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day, November 3, 2020. There is no postage required to return a vote-by-mail ballot.
  • Dropping it off at your local elections office or at any ballot drop box, polling place, or vote center.
    • Palm Springs City Hall and Demuth Community Center
    • Cathedral City 68700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero and Date Palm Country Club
    • Banning: 99 E. Ramsey St.
    • Beaumont: 440 E 6th St.
    • Hemet: 445 E. Florida Ave; Seven Hills Members Club; Valley Vista Library
    • Desert Hot Springs: 11999 Palm Drive
    • Rancho Mirage: 69825 Hwy 111
    • Palm Desert: PD City Hall
    • Indo: City Hall; Indo Corporate Yard; Indio Public Library 200 Civic Center Mall]

Vote-by-mail is a safe and secure option. Remember to sign your vote-by-mail envelope. You can track your vote-by-mail ballot to make sure it’s counted.

Voting Options by Southern California County

In California, you can always vote-by-mail by Election Day. If you decide to vote in-person or drop-off your ballot, you have options. Select your Southern California county of residence to learn more:

Riverside County

San Bernardino County

  • Polling Place. San Bernardino County will use a polling location model this November. There will be 210 polling locations. Voters will receive a polling “assignment” printed on the back of their Voter Information Guide, but they will be able to vote in-person or drop-off a ballot at any of the County’s 210 polling locations. A select number of locations will be available for early voting beginning October 26, and the rest will be available beginning October 31. Polling locations will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the early voting period. On Election Day, polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Ballot Drop-Box. San Bernardino County plans to have 70 secure Ballot Drop-off locations available beginning October 6.
  • See the final list of polling locations and Ballot Drop-Off locations in San Bernardino County as they are updated.

Seniors Need Protection – Less Isolati …

Seniors Need Protection – Less Isolation

Specialists say social isolation can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, but many people over age 65 in our community are trapped with long-term social seclusion, worsened by this pandemic. We’ve created a medical home for them, with specialized doctors and therapists they can access from home, and a social services team to link them to programs and coverage.  

Seniors make up almost 30 percent of this Valley’s population, about double the national average. Because many already identified as physically vulnerable pre pandemic, seniors are experiencing added isolation from adhering to current social distance rules. 

As the length of this pandemic takes a toll on even the most resilient seniors, advocates like Dr. Jill Gover, our behavioral health manager contributed to a story in The Desert Sun:

"(Older people) are not willing to take the risk and so they are much more isolated — it was a major problem to begin with and COVID has only exacerbated it." (read more here)

Get Access To the Care You Need

One Call is a service that can enroll callers in health insurance or Medi-Cal through Covered California, register them for medical and behavioral healthcare, and schedule their first appointment at DAP — all in approximately 45 minutes. This is a significant reduction in the amount of time this would normally take, thanks to a DAP Healthcare Navigator who will work one-on-one with each caller.

Callers can access One Call service by calling 760-992-0426, Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm PDT.

Accessing PrEP During COVID-19

Accessing PrEP During COVID-19 

Getting on PrEP at DAP is easy. We offer help with insurance and discount programs, and our navigators and doctors give you specialized attention to find out what works best for you as an individual. 

Most of our clients who are using PrEP to prevent HIV are on the daily dose, and this remains the most effective regiment. Clinical data indicates that while daily PrEP has shown to be 99% effective in preventing HIV, PrEP 2-1-1 has been shown to be up to 86% effective. 

For a few, daily PrEP is not an option, and we believe in making this lifesaving therapy available to everyone. Your DAP doctor can tell you more. 

Under certain circumstances, PrEP 2-1-1, or PrEP-on-demand, is available at DAP. While we fight COVID-19, our doctors are also keeping their patients safer from HIV by finding new ways to protect their sexual health. 

During this period of lockdown, we make daily dosing easy for you. With medication delivery, telephone consults, and sanitized stations for periodic STI testing, clients are preventing HIV while being safely served. 

If you or someone you know wants to talk about PrEP, please call (760) 323-1999 to talk to a member of our team who’s ready to tell you more. You can also learn more here. 

Community Impact Newsletter September/Oc …

Community Impact Newsletter September/October 2020

Lifesaving HIV Meds Quicker Under New Rapid ART Program

DAP programs for promptly treating patients with HIV are being recognized again at the national level, and the result will save even more lives and prevent new cases. It also says a lot about our community, because without donor support, these programs are not possible.

Winning designation as a Rapid ART Implementation Site is an important milestone in the fight to end HIV. DAP stands 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).

By joining this national demonstration project and collaboration with HRSA, DAP will share its 36 years of experience in the fight to end HIV, and it will boost resources for its HIV testing and treatment programs for people in the Coachella Valley.

For a three-year period, DAP will continue to build and share its best practices for making sure PLWHA receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) quickly after receiving an initial HIV diagnosis, or immediately after requesting it if they had stopped ART for any reason.

Untreated HIV Threatens Coachella Valley

It’s a surprise to many, but people are still developing and even dying from AIDS in 2020, right here in the Coachella Valley. Our early intervention program had 160 referrals for attempts to find patients who had stopped filling their ART prescriptions, ceasing their HIV treatment without explanation. (Based on calendar year 2019)

Falling through the cracks means that some patients whose bodies had stabilized with life-saving HIV meds have stopped taking them, sometimes for five years or more. And for others, it means not starting therapy at all after receiving an HIV diagnosis.

Without accessing care, they are waiting until they are sick from HIV-related illnesses before attempting to resume ART and primary care.

Waiting to begin or resume ART always leaves a dangerous gap of time that could result in catastrophe, such as failing to ever adhere to medication therapy, or even death. Another consequence is the effect on others as sex partners are put at risk for HIV.

This collaboration with HRSA seeks to remedy the problem with a protocol that provides ART ASAP:

  • Same day as HIV diagnosis (some exceptions)
  • Quickly after request is made to resume therapy

The vast majority (about 80 percent) of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2016 were transmitted from the nearly 40 percent of people with HIV who either did not know they had HIV, or who received a diagnosis but were not receiving HIV care. (CDC)

According to Dr. Tulika Singh, DAP Associate Chief Medical Officer, not all physicians are permitted to treat their patients without administrative obstructions that derail health outcomes.

“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,” she says. “This is due to previous protocols and practicing traditional HIV medicine,” like having to do unnecessary lab work or jumping through hoops with insurance.

“No more!” says Dr. Singh.

Greater access for ART through this project will be enabled by DAP’s referral and linkage networks, with extensive arrangements with regional medical centers, community clinics and individual providers, in addition to this grant.

“We are able to provide rapid start ART for newly diagnosed persons living with HIV as early as the same day of diagnosis,” she says. “This will help us get to UN 90-90-90 goal sooner than anticipated and help our patients age in a healthy way.”

Getting Back On ART -- Helping Someone Find The Courage

Given what we know about the health consequences of stopping ART, the public health argument is strong for offering the resources to resume therapy quickly and without delay. This includes taking the time to make a personal connection, so that people can feel safe.

When it comes to why people fall out of care, “Every situation is so different,” says C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health at DAP.

Poverty affects most DAP clients, but it affects PLWHA uniquely. They might cope with denial, depression, and suicidal ideation. Stigma is often made worse by rejection from loved ones, and drug and alcohol abuse are more likely to increase.

But other factors may include housing insecurity, unemployment, lack of transportation, and fear of government due to immigration status. Being a recent transplant to the Palm Springs area from other parts of the U.S. also can also be a reason.

“People are also dying by not accessing all the things you need to make the medication keep working,” says Tobe.  “There’s a lot that goes into getting that treatment, starting with walking through those doors.”

In addition to ART, DAP helps patients thrive with HIV with access to social services they are eligible for, ensuring they receive needed food, housing, transportation, and home health care support if they need it.

U=U Helping End The Epidemic

The more people who are on treatment and undetectable, the fewer new transmissions there will be. According to Prevention Access founder Bruce Richman,

“We need access to treatment and removing barriers, not just for the wellbeing of people living with HIV,” he says. “But also, to prevent new transmissions.”

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.  

About UNAIDS 90-90-90

 Removing barriers to ART is in support of UNAIDS 90-90-90, the global plan to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

The goal is that globally,

90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, and  

90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and

90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

According to its 2020 update, “The response could be set back further, by 10 years or more, if the COVID-19 pandemic results in severe disruptions to HIV services.”

Using Tools That We Trust

Using Tools That We Trust 

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, September 19, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO 

Committed to Preventing Flu  

By missing a flu shot, as many as 50 million Americans may catch influenza this year, but now it can be much deadlier. 

Experts warn that it is possible to catch the flu on top of a COVID, but there is something everyone can do now to make a huge difference. Flu season starts in late fall, and getting your vaccination is recommended by October 1, 2020. 

Now is the time to schedule your flu shot with your DAP doctor by logging onto MyChart, or by calling (760) 323-2118. Please read more here

Flu season often is delayed in Southern California, meaning we see cases peak in January through February. DAP is timing its flu shots so that patients retain immunity during peak months. 

If you have HIV, you are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. In addition to taking antiretroviral therapy (ART), the best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu shot.  

Questions About Flu? Call Us! 

Our COVID Clinic also specializes in multiple upper and lower respiratory diseases, including flu. Anyone interested in talking about the flu should call 760-992-0407 to talk to a clinician.  

Desert AIDS Walk Paved Way for COVID Response 

36 years of walking created the roadmap DAP used to quickly open a COVID 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.  

Because of community support, DAP developed the services needed to respond to the AIDS epidemic while creating a patient-centered model of care that today helps more than 7,000 patients, regardless of HIV status. 

The AIDS crisis left unhealed wounds and it is 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. Read more here

Hope is Theme of Desert AIDS Walk 2020

Hope is Theme of Desert AIDS Walk 2020  

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, September 12, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO 

HIV remains a substantial threat to public health in the Coachella Valley, and we are not letting COVID distract us from vigorously fighting it 

As we test more new positive cases, we are stepping forward and evolving our programs to test, treat, and prevent HIV in the age of COVID. 

Desert AIDS Walk 2020 is more important now than ever. You can find out more at  www.DesertAIDSWalk.org.  

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 2020 is an important funding source for programs and services that help people thrive with HIV, while preventing new cases in our valley. It also supports Hepatitis C cures, behavioral health services, dentistry, food, housing, and other vital services. 

This year we are making it easy and fun for Valley residents to participate with downloadable walk routes, specialized for safe walking in their cities. We’re also including an online wellness forum that will provide entertainment and more about DAP’s programs and services, dedicated community sponsors, and the extended work of its partners. Registration and more information is available at www.DesertAIDSWalk.org.  

DAP Talks  

Suicide Prevention 

Preventing suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic is a major concern for mental health advocates everywhere. DAP’s Dr. Jill GoverBehavioral Health Manageraddressed the warning signs and other important information we all should be aware of in her latest DAP Talks. You can listen here.  

If you or someone you know needs to talk to a specialist about suicide, please don’t wait. The following services are availableday and night: 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255.  

Riverside County HELPline, a free confidential crisis suicide intervention service (951) 686-HELP (4357). 

DAP In The News 

No matter what health profile we fit, it’s important to stay engaged in our healthcare during this crisis. Dr. Tulika Singh talked to The Standard about the top four neglected health habits she notices in her patients, plus realistic fixes for better outcomes. You can read more here. 

DAP Talks: Restoring Hope – Nation …

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been experiencing anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness, and loneliness. And some, to the point that those feelings have become unbearable. If you’re feeling hopeless and having thoughts about suicide or you’re concerned about someone else, listen to Dr. Gover, Clinical Psychologist, talk about some ways to find help, and restore hope.

Suicide Prevention Resources:

If emergency medical care is needed, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. The phone lines are answered by trained professionals; the call is free and confidential.

Riverside County

If you need to be connected to mental health services in Riverside County, call the CARES Line at (800) 706-7500. You may also call or walk into a Riverside County 24/7 Mental Health Urgent Care location. Whether you are in crisis or just need someone to talk to, all services are voluntary. Counseling and nursing, as well as, psychiatric medications are available. All locations are open 24/7 and everyone is welcome regardless of insurance type or ability to pay.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth and young adults, ages 13–24, over the phone, online and via text. Trevor Lifeline (24/7): (866) 488-7386, TrevorText: Text the word “Trevor” to (202) 304-1200 to text with a trained counselor on Fridays from 1–5 p.m., TrevorChat: Confidential chat service with a trained volunteer counselor available 7 days a week, from 12 noon –6 p.m. Learn more at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

It Gets Better Project

This website is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It’s a place where people can share their stories, take the It Gets Better Project pledge, watch videos of love and support and learn about resources. Visit https://itgetsbetter.org/ to learn more. What’s Up Safehouse What’s Up Safehouse is a 24/7, free, anonymous mental health crisis texting line. Get immediate support from a licensed mental health professional. Dedicated to helping support the residents of Riverside County through issues surrounding anxiety, substance abuse, depression, school pressure, peer pressure, LGBTQ struggles, relational issues, suicidal thoughts, bullying, and any other issue that is causing trouble. Text SHHELP to 844.204.0880 24/7 for immediate support and resources. Learn more at https://safehouseofthedesert.com/what…

DAP earns “LGBTQ Health Care Equality …

DAP earns “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” Designation in Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index

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

Palm Springs, CA (September 3, 2020) -- DAP has earned “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The designation is in the 13th edition of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), released in August. A record 765 health care facilities actively participated in the HEI 2020 survey. Of those included in the HEI, 193 earned an “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” designation.

“When we started 36 years ago, HIV rights and the fight for medical access were synonymous with LGBTQ rights,” said David Brinkman, DAP CEO. “Opening our doors wider requires doing the work to always ensure that we hold ourselves accountable when it comes to honoring every letter in the acronym LGBTQ.” 

Every year, HRC recognizes the health care facilities that participate in the HEI for their dedication and commitment to LGBTQ inclusion. HRC also extends its deepest gratitude to these facilities for their courageous fight against COVID-19 and their commitment to addressing racism and injustice. As the final HEI surveys were submitted in March, health care facilities were kicking into overdrive to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Many faced a lack of equipment, staffing shortages and surging demand. Two months later, as the fight against COVID-19 continued, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers thrust America’s structural racism into the spotlight. HEI participants issued strong statements on racial justice and equity, participated in White Coats for Black Lives demonstrations and announced new programs to address racial inequities in their institutions and their communities.

In the 2020 report, an impressive 495 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 193 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 90% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.

The remarkable progress reflected in the 2020 HEI includes:

  • 92% of participants met the HEI's training requirements, completing more than 150,000 hours of staff training in LGBTQ patient-centered care.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their patient non-discrimination policy.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their employment nondiscrimination policy.
  • 53% of HEI participants indicated that their facility has a policy or policies that specifically outline procedures and practices aimed at eliminating bias and insensitivity, and ensuring appropriate, welcoming interactions with transgender patients.
  • After many years of trailing their corporate counterparts in the provision of transgender-inclusive health care benefits for employees, HEI participating healthcare facilities are nearly on par with the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) participants as 80% have at least one health care plan that offered this benefit. The latest CEI noted 85% of participants having such benefits.

In addition to active survey participants, the HRC Foundation proactively researched the key policies at over 1,000 non-participating hospitals. Unfortunately, the adoption rate at these researched hospitals stands in stark contrast to the near-perfect adoption by active participants. Among the researched hospitals in which we were able to find or obtain enumerated patient non-discrimination policies, only 67% have policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and only 63% were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, at 93%, is the only one that comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the education arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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Did You Know Volunteering Gives You Life …

Did You Know Volunteering Gives You Lifelong Personal Growth and Well-Being? 

One of the main benefits of volunteering, besides helping others, is the lifelong personal growth and well-being. Doing good in your community helps you work together towards equity and equality for everyone. It gives you a sense of purpose in life and it also strengthens your ties with your local community. Depending on where you decide to volunteer, you will make a real difference in the lives of others. Every volunteer can make a difference. However, the more you volunteer the more happy and complete you feel within.  

Five benefits from volunteering: 

  1. Helps you share your skills and develop new ones- Many times when volunteering, you discover hidden talents as you share your skills with your team. You may learn one’s from others’ expertise and may spark other interests for you. It also helps boosts your skills and expand your network. It’s a win-win situation. 
  2. Connects you with others in your community- You’re providing a valuable service to the community and giving back through social responsibility. You become part of a change to continue build a new, better community. 
  3. Helps you build self- confidence and self-esteem- Your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity. The more you feel good about yourself, the more you will transmit positive vibes to those around you. 
  4. Gives you a sense of purpose- Many studies have shown helping others kindles happiness. Whatever age or life situation, volunteering will help take your mind off your own worries. It will also keep you mentally stimulated.  
  5. Important for your career- if you’re considering a new career, volunteering can help you get the experience needed and open doors for you in that field. If changing careers is not your plan, volunteering will also give you the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace. 

If you’re ready to make new friends, share your skills while gaining others and improving your health, then this is the time for you to get involved in volunteering. Your life will change to the better, but you will change the lives of others forever. Start volunteering today! 

Want to be part of our team of Volunteers? 

Put your talent and time to work and make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.  Revivals support Desert AIDS Project, a federally qualified healthcare center that 7,000 of your neighbors call their healthcare home. 

Our volunteers are changing the world one hour at a time. We need your help. Please go to www.revivalsstores.com to fill out a short interest form. We look forward to seeing you soon! Support the community you want to create.