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Invest In The Wellbeing of PLWHA To Prev …

Invest In The Wellbeing of PLWHA To Prevent New Transmissions

This is the second in a series of four Q&A posts capturing founder Bruce Richman’s perspectives on our movement to end HIV stigma with U=U, Prevention Access Campaign, and all of us. Recently he talked with us on DAP LIVE.


We don’t talk enough about how stigma can prevent us from getting HIV testing.

If someone who’s HIV positive can access medication, they can live a very long life. But if they don't know that they have HIV and they don't access medication, there can be all kinds of complications.

Tell me about U=U’s role in ending the epidemic. Because if we don't know our status, and if we don't have access to the medication we need, we're not going to end the HIV epidemic. Also, why is stigma still so prevalent?


Initially I didn't understand that U=U had a role in ending the epidemic in terms of preventing new transmissions. I always really focused on improving the lives of people with HIV and ending the stigma that we have faced for so long. But in terms of ending the epidemic, U=U is essential. Dr. Fauci says, “U=U is the foundation of being able to end the epidemic,” because the more people who are on treatment and undetectable, the fewer new transmissions there'll be.

So in the United States, when you realize half of the people living with HIV are not on treatment and not in care, and they're not getting the treatment and care or the services, they need to stay healthy.

They're also not getting those services that they need to stay un-transmittable. So if we really want to end the epidemic and save lives, we're going to make sure that we invest in the wellbeing of people living with HIV, so they can stay healthy and prevent new transmissions. We need to link investing in the wellbeing of people living with HIV to ending the epidemic. Because when you invest in the wellbeing of people with HIV, you prevent new transmissions. And that's a big deal.

HIV stigma is intertwined with all kinds of stigma. There's sex negativity, homophobia, transphobia, stigma against people who inject drugs and sex workers. And that deep-seated negativity against all kinds of STIs. HIV stigma is particularly embedded in this country because of the last 35 years of mass fear-based messages. And what we remember since the early days of the 1980s.

It’s something that is really hard to unlearn decades of fear of HIV and people living with HIV. It'll take a long time. That's why we have to keep saying it— “U=U.”

People living with HIV cannot pass it on if you make sure that all of us have the treatment and the care that we need to stay healthy. We're not going to pass on HIV. There's no fear. You can have sex,  babies, love—all with no risk.


When you started this, did you think it would become a global human rights movement?


We launched U=U four years ago. No, I didn't think it was going to be like this. I've always been really behind the scenes with my work in the past. I just knew this had to be done. We had targets, we had the CDC, we had UN AIDS, World Health Organization, public health associations, and research associations.

We were very focused in terms of who we needed to move forward and our advocacy. And we had numbers, I think at the end of the first year, we're going to have 75 in the U.S. and we had already had 200 at that point.

This just goes to show the power, the passion and the brilliance of people living with HIV around the world who are standing up to change the narrative about their bodies. And to reclaim our lives from public health systems that are deeply, inherently flawed, racist and paternalist—all those “isms” that prevented this life changing information from getting to us all those years.

It's almost a thousand organizations in 101 countries. Now it's just, it's phenomenal. And so many different languages.

Preventionaccess.org has a lot of information, including social shares that allies can use. It's got tips about the language that we should all be educating ourselves about. It’s science-based, and values fact over fear.

Get Access To the Care You Need

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

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

Sexual Health Clinic - Palm Springs

1695 N. Sunrise Way Palm Springs, CA 92262

Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 AM (Closed for lunch from noon-1:00 PM)

Call 760-992-0492 to schedule an appointment.

To reach our after-hours answering service, please call (760) 323-2118.

DAP Celebrates Juneteenth

DAP Celebrates Juneteenth

Friday is Juneteenth, the oldest commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Desert AIDS Project continues to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the peaceful protests which continue to energize the movement around the world.

"Juneteenth is an opportunity to commemorate the contributions of Black individuals who have inspired, guided, and driven our work at DAP, but also to recommit to our mission of ensuring everyone has access to healthcare information, testing, and treatment," said Desert AIDS Project CEO David Brinkman.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in healthcare access in the United States. CDC data shows that the death rates among Black people are much higher than for white people, in all age categories.

According to CDC data, Black Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses and people with HIV, compared to other races and ethnicities. In 2018, Black Americans accounted for 13% of the US population, but 42% of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas.

On Friday, digital marquee signs at DAP on the corner of Sunrise and Vista Chino, and at Revivals Cathedral City store located on Hwy 111, will recognize the day by displaying the emancipation flag.

Additionally, DAP will be using its social media platforms to educate its followers about the meaning of Juneteeth as we continue our work to end systemic poverty via nutrition, housing, and police safety.

Revivals Stores will be encouraging its shoppers to explore the rich variety of Black-owned businesses in Greater Palm Springs. https://www.pslocalsonly.com/

Further, to engage our employees, there will be a special all-staff virtual gathering on Friday to reflect upon and discuss the importance of Juneteenth’s historic and current significance.

Yesterday, DAP joined Human Rights Campaign and 350 LGBTQ organizations united in calling for transformational change in policing. The letter reads in part, "We cannot sit on the sidelines, we cannot acquiesce, and we cannot assign responsibility to others. We, as leaders in the LGBTQ movement, must rise up and call for structural change…” You can read the full letter here.

And, most importantly, DAP continues to listen to persons of color in the community in which we serve to learn how DAP can become a stronger ally and co-worker in the movement to end racism.

Standing with Black Lives Matter

Standing with Black Lives Matter

Weekend Wrap Message-Saturday, June 6, From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

As an acknowledgment of the protests that are occurring globally and in our Valley, we postponed our Voices of Hope: Together We Thrive streaming event.

The fight against AIDS has always been a fight against discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry. DAP stands in solidarity with black communities locally, nationally and around the world, including Black Lives Matter.

As a member of DAP, I have no doubt that you're aware of the racial and financial injustices that plague our community and our nation. Like me, you may be asking yourself, “How can I help end racism?” All human beings deserve equal opportunities and to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.

DAP stands for quality and culturally competent care as a human right and as a critical component to building a fair and just society. The COVID-19 pandemic brings the impact of systemic racism front and center, and DAP recommits to addressing barriers that prevent individuals and communities from reaching their full potential.

This Weekend Wrap for March 28th feature …

DAP Logo Weekend Wrap

This Weekend Wrap for March 28th features updates from Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Executive Officer, David Brinkman

We are living in unprecedented times. It’s been two weeks since DAP opened its COVID-19 Triage clinic and put out the first call for community support to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In that time, we've seen over 90 patients in the urgent clinic, screening and treating each one, and testing only those who were sickest.

All week long, we've been sharing updates on our website, Facebook and Instagram pages but in case you missed it, here are some of our top stories.

Clinical & Programming Updates

  • DAP launched Tele-Health services for patients and clients who are not able to come to our campus for care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Monday, patients can access their medical, psychotherapy, and psychiatry healthcare through their smartphones, iPads, or desktop computers.
  • DAP is still welcoming new clients during the COVID-19 health crisis. Services available include:
    • Primary Care

    • Specialty Care for HIV and Hep C

    • Behavioral Healthcare

    • Sexual Health at The DOCK

    • Social Services like case management, food assistance, transportation, housing and home care.

    • COVID-19 Triage Clinic

  • The DOCK, temporarily housed in DAP’s Green Clinic, continued to see patients who have questions about their sexual health, testing for STI's and HIV while our PrEP navigators continued to work with those who want access to the prevention technique.
  • DAP's Social Service and Community Health teams launched home delivery of essential supplies, including food for our most vulnerable home-bound clients ensuring they don't need to leave their home to go to the grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • DAP created a series of Spanish language videos and blog content to ensure everyone has access to the same life-saving information.
  • DAP's Client Wellness team launched a series of ZOOM meetings to connect clients in recovery to the groups that met at DAP before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Yoga sessions and guest speakers will roll-out next week.
  • DAP has had to re-adjust its operations in the wake of COVID-19. It has meant:
    • Making Telemedicine available to our clients through our MyChart client portal, which will enable them to continue in care if they are required to stay at home.

    • Suspending non-urgent dental appointments at our Dental Clinic, in accordance with the American Dental Association recommended guidelines.

    • Halting housecleaning, cooking and laundry for our Home Health clients, after the California Department of Public Health and other regulatory organizations issued strict guidelines protecting workers.

DAP in the News

Community Updates

Through email and phone calls, we’ve continued to share with you updates from the frontline of our clinical work, having tested our first positive cases and the stories from grateful patients. In response to all of these, nearly 300 of you have answered our call. THANK YOU!  We could not be more grateful. With $300,000 raised we have $1,150,000 left to raise.

Through these calls for your support, I have also received responses of concern asking, “why such a financial emergency?” And “How could a healthcare organization lay off staff in the middle of an emergency?”.

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DAP was forced to close our three Revivals stores and our Dental Clinic foregoing the revenue from each.

  • We've had to cancel our Dining Out for Life fundraiser which raised $360,000, last year alone.

  • With many of our patients being in a high-risk group due to their age, our paid clinical visits and behavioral health clinic visits are down as well.

  • We responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by opening a Triage Clinic to screen, test, and treat respiratory illness.

  • Altogether, we anticipate revenue losses from now through June 30, 2020, of $2.5 million. Hence, we took swift action to stabilize the organization financially so that our core work of serving the 7,000 community members who call DAP their healthcare home remains uninterrupted during and after this crisis is over.

Be assured, our frontline clinical teams remain intact to provide daily care as well as COVID-19 triage services.

If you questions about COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 FAQ's for information in both English and Spanish. If you believe you might be symptomatic or need information about testing, please call our COVID-19 hotline at (760) 992-0407.

David Brinkman
Chief Executive Officer

For growing STI crisis, HIV, HCV and Pov …

Contact: Jack Bunting
[email protected]
(760) 656-8472

At a time when the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports a 30 year high in STIs in California —particularly syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia—Desert AIDS Project (DAP) affirms that in addition to HIV and HCV, these are among the most serious public health issues facing Californians today.

DAP is in a unique position to apply the lessons it has learned over 35 years in HIV prevention, testing and treatment. With the increasing prevalence of Californians suffering from two or more of these infections simultaneously, we must no longer approach HIV, HCV, and STIs as if they belong in separate silos. Nor can we continue to overlook the roles that poverty and social isolation play in this crisis.

To end these epidemics, Californians need:    
   • Routinized education, testing and treatment for all five infections: HIV, HCV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.       
   • Access to ongoing medical and behavioral healthcare, and stable housing.
   • Community and wellness services for psychosocial support to avoid isolation and poor medical treatment adherence.

We represent our community’s voice in state and federal discussions, and constantly looking at new developments, models and funding sources to deploy new efforts in the Coachella Valley. Regardless of access to funding, our commitment to outreach through our community health department enables us to reach at-risk populations.

DAP is also part of End The Epidemics, a statewide working group of approximately 160 public health and community organizations urging Governor Newsom and the California Legislature to empower key stakeholders as soon as possible to fund and implement California’s strategy to end the HIV, HCV, and STI epidemics.

“Funding is essential to fight the spread of newly acquired STIs in California, but it will not fix the entire problem,” said Carl Baker, director of legal and legislative affairs at DAP. “To test and link people to care, we have to meet them where they are; not where we wish they were.”

DAP staff provide testing and education in jails, prisons, drug rehabilitation centers and where our homeless neighbors live.

It also links clients to Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) as key strategies to decrease new infections. We know that regular STI testing that is part of the PrEP protocol identifies people who are infected with STIs who would not have been tested otherwise. 

In the Coachella Valley, and Palm Springs in particular, STIs are historically higher than the rest of the county, and have been rising steadily. Higher poverty rates than in the rest of California, plus a thriving tourism industry create an atmosphere for STIs to spread.

In 2018, Riverside County reported syphilis cases ran about 12 per 100,000 people. In the Coachella Valley: 32 cases per 100,000.

The numbers sharply increase in Palm Springs, with over 100 cases per 100,000, and especially North Palm Springs, with 185 cases per 100,000 people. (Riverside University Health System)

To address this trend, in May 2018 DAP lowered the price for testing and treatment for STIs to just $25, and no charge in extreme cases of lack of funds. Access to these services at other organizations in the Coachella Valley cost about seven-to-ten times as much, and prevents many from accessing testing and treatment.

Currently we are noticing about 30 additional clients per week at The DOCK for STI testing and treatment.

“Who knows how many of our clients would wait longer to get screening and treatment if they had to pay as much as ten times what The DOCK charges?” said C.J. Tobe, interim director of community health. “If our clients test positive, we can get them on treatment which is vital to stop the epidemics, and we can even go further, offering them ongoing primary medical and behavioral healthcare and other services.”

DAP knows from experience, and the CDC agrees, that our clients experience better health outcomes when they can access stable housing, and when they receive support to fight drug abuse, poverty, and stigma.

Besides accessing primary and behavioral healthcare, nutritious food and fighting isolation by connecting to other humans is also essential. Wellness services like yoga and chiropractic, and re-entering the workforce have shown to be essential to our clients as they rebound from an array of health challenges.

What Is A Syndemic?

Together, HIV, HCV and STIs create a syndemic—a set of linked health problems that interact synergistically and exacerbate poor health outcomes.

For example, having an STD increases the likelihood of acquiring HIV.  Among people who are living with HCV and HIV, HCV progresses faster and more than triples the risk for liver disease, liver failure, and liver related death. These epidemics are also driven by similar social and economic conditions and disproportionately impact many of the same disadvantaged communities.

About End The Epidemics

The California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Centers, together with HIV, viral hepatitis, and STD community-based organizations across California, have launched a community-driven effort to inform development of a statewide plan to end the HIV, HCV, and STD epidemics in California. What makes this initiative innovative and unique – in addition to community leadership – is its ambitious goal of addressing these health conditions as a syndemic – a set of linked health problems that interact synergistically and exacerbate poor health outcomes. The syndemic approach differs from the biomedical approach in that it treats diseases concurrently and also addresses the social determinants of health that drive these epidemics. To learn more, visit: www.chprc.org/end-the-epidemics/

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is a Federally Qualified Health Center 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 STD testing and treatment for only $25 per visit, 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 sixth 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.

to learn more

2019 Desert AIDS Walk ‘Walk a Day …

On Saturday, October 19 over 2,000 community members will unite in Ruth Hardy Park to walk in the Desert AIDS Walk in support of Desert AIDS Project, presented by Desert Care Network. This year’s walk, with the theme of ‘Walk A Day in Our Shoes’, will follow a 2.5-mile route through the new downtown Palm Springs and is notable for the diversity of community members who come together as teams each year to support Desert AIDS Project and our community partners.

Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Development Officer, Darrell Tucci on this year’s walk: “Desert AIDS Project has a long history as a leader in community healthcare and is unique in its approach to providing comprehensive services to underserved communities. We are, at our core, a non-profit health care center, specializing in HIV and infectious disease, supported in large part by the communities we serve.

Your Website Title
Desert AIDS Walk News

Desert AIDS Walk News.

Posted by Facebook on Friday, December 5, 2014

Desert AIDS Walk 2019 begins at 8 a.m. and will feature live entertainment, a Health & Wellness Festival featuring over 40 vendor booths, and a kid’s activity zone.

Desert AIDS Project CEO, David Brinkman is expected to update the community on the progress D.A.P. has made in eliminating HIV/AIDS and the work that remains to be done to ensure community health becomes a reality for every resident of the Coachella Valley. 

The walk kicks off at 9 a.m. and will be led by six-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, Hank Plante who was featured in the documentary 5B about the first AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital.  He will be joined by other health care providers who continue to lead the work being done to care for our community.  Register today!

Click here for Sponsor Opportunities!

Visit Desert AIDS Walk 2019

Dining Out for Life Coachella Valley 201 …

A powerful story about the impact of a community in action


Contact: Steven Henke

[email protected]


Palm Springs, CA – Eighty-three local restaurants, bars, bakeries and coffee shops participated in Dining Out for Life on April 25 donating 33% or more of their food, beverage, and liquor gross sales to support Desert AIDS Project. Setting a record this year, fifteen participants donated 50% or more. The local event, which raised $307,000, was part of the larger Dining Out for Life program which occurs on the last Thursday of April each year.  In 2019, there were 49 Dining Out For Life events throughout North America. 2,459 restaurants participated, and with the support of 4,000 volunteers and 400,000 diners, more than $4 million was raised to support local HIV services.

Harold Matzner donated 100% of Spencer’s gross revenue in honor of his friend, Barbara Keller who championed the mission of DAP and for whom DAP’s main building will be renamed ‘The Barbara Keller LOVE Building’.  Matzner’s restaurant was the top fundraising location in North America for the second year in a row joined by Lulu California Bistro and Trio Restaurant as the top three fundraising locations.  Jointly, the three locations raised over $74,000.

Locally, the event generates great community pride of place.  Greater Palm Springs raised more funds than cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and San Francisco.   “This is a powerful story about the impact of generous restaurants and our local community.” Said Desert AIDS Project’s Chief Development Officer, Darrel Tucci who credits the generosity of Great Palm Springs business owners for raising a record amount this year for client services at Desert AIDS Project (DAP).  “Palm Springs is the smallest participating market, but because of their commitment to DAP, we were second in overall fundraising again this year.  No other market can boast the level of commitment shown in Greater Palm Springs.”

Beyond fundraising to support DAP’s clients and services, the event generates community awareness of HIV/AIDS and supports Desert AIDS Project’s mission to enhance health and well-being of its community. Desert AIDS Project provides compassionate care for 6,500 patients and clients.  Desert AIDS Project’s goal and specialty is helping people achieve overall health. DAP is in the midst of a capital campaign, D.A.P. Vision 2020, which when fully funded, will enable it to double the number of patients and clients served.  Desert AIDS Project CEO, David Brinkman explains why the expansion is so important.  “There are 27,000 transgender individuals in our service area that need culturally competent care.  40,000 low income residents near DAP are still without healthcare and our neighbors facing a mental health crisis often wait weeks or months for an appointment.  Treatment for addiction, is often out of reach and affordable housing is almost non-existent in Palm Springs.  The future of DAP is humanitarian, moving individuals into care and onward toward a life of wellness.

Brinkman reflected on the impact of Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs. “Few other events bring DAP closer to our tap root of community action. DAP was founded on unconditional love and guided by community members who defined and funded solutions to help those in need. I hope the community shares our great sense of pride in being home to the top three fundraising restaurants in North America for the third year in a row.”  Over 10,000 residents ‘made one meal matter’ at participating locations throughout the day sporting their ‘I Dined’ badges of honor. 

Sponsors of Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs included Sysco Riverside, Nonstop Wellness, NBC Palm Springs, The Desert Sun, CV Independent, Standard Magazine, Gay Desert Guide.  The date for Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs 2020 is Thursday, April 26.

Dining Out for Life Greater Palm Springs

Donated 100%

Donated 69%

Donated 60%

Donated 50%

Donated 33%

About Desert AIDS Project

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


D.A.P. Support Letter for SB 1021

Senator Ed Hernandez
Chair, Senate Health Committee
State Capitol Room 2191
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: SB 1021 (Wiener) – Support
As Introduced, January 29, 2018

Dear Senator Hernandez:

Desert AIDS Project is pleased to support SB 1021 (Wiener), which will ensure consumers have access to vital medications by keeping existing consumer protections on prescription drug co-pays and formulary standards. SB 1021 will continue the co-pay cap of $250 for a 30-day supply of a prescription drug that was established by AB 339 (Gordon, Chapter 619 of 2015) and set standards for tiers in drug formularies. These consumer protections will expire at the end of 2019 if SB 1021 is not passed.

Prescription drug costs continue to skyrocket. Consumers are facing price increases on everything from longtime generics used to treat common conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol to new treatments for chronic diseases such as hepatitis C. Before the AB 339 consumer protections were put in place, Californians with serious and chronic conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lupus were particularly vulnerable to higher out-of-pocket costs because high-cost specialty drugs were often placed on the highest tier of a drug formulary. Consumers often reached their out-of-pocket limit of as much as $6,000 in the first month of the plan year when filling just one of their prescriptions.

For individual and small employer coverage, AB 339 also set standards for each tier of a drug formulary to help prevent health plans from routinely placing all specialty drugs on the highest cost tier. The bill also required health plans place a drug on a tier based on standards for safety and efficacy, not just its cost. AB 339 also prohibited health plans from placing most or all of the drugs to treat a particular condition on the highest cost tier of a formulary – preventing discrimination based on a health condition.

SB 1021 will maintain these protections, ensuring that all Californians, including those living with chronic conditions, are able to afford life-saving prescription drugs. This bill will also keep co-pays affordable for consumers and maintain standards for formulary tiers, helping consumers have access to the prescriptions they need.

For these reasons, we support SB 1021 (Wiener). Please contact Carl Baker, Director of Legal and Legislative Affairs at 760-656-8482 if you have any questions about our position on this bill.

Carl Baker
Director of Legal and Legislative Affairs

cc: Members, Senate Health Committee
Senator Scott Wiener, author

DAP Leadership Presents Infectious Disea …

D.A.P.’s own David Morris MD and Matt Moran MSN, ANP-BC, presented their research at the prestigious Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), happening this week in Boston.

CROI brings together top clinical researchers from around the world to share important developments and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases.

CROI is a global model of collaborative science and the premier international venue for bridging basic and clinical investigation to clinical practice in the field of HIV and related viruses.

We are so proud!