Call: (760) 323-2118
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Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Mon - Fri

Building Hope on Solid Ground

Building Hope on Solid Ground  

New housing on DAP campus gets city approval, Dr. Kekar says trust vaccines, and Dr. G offers practical wisdom on getting through the holidays this year. 

City Council Approval Feels Like Home 

Even though COVID shook us in 2020, we did not give up on our promise to build additional safe and affordable housing as we expand our campus. We are thankful to the Palm Springs City Council for its unanimous approval last week for us to add 61 affordable housing units and 18,500 square feet of healthcare space at our campus.  

We are proud to call the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition our partner in developing these beautiful new living spaces, with 29 units reserved for residents coming out of homelessness. 

We couldn’t agree more with Palm Springs City Councilwoman Lisa Middleton when she said the expansion is “a stunningly beautiful project, and anyone would be proud to be able to call it home.” You can read more in The Desert Sun’s coverage here. 

Dr. Kerkar Urges: Trust COVID Vaccines 

Now that vaccines to fight COVID are becoming available, convincing everybody that they are safe and effective is crucial if we are going to eradicate this infection. DAP Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Shubha Kerkar shared about why she trusts them, looking at other vaccines in recent memory that helped eradicate polio and smallpox. You can read more here. 

Get Through Holiday Blues with Dr. Gover 

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, and it just got easier with practical strategies from Dr. Jill Gover, DAP’s behavioral health manager.  

Dr. Gover says that having a plan for how you will spend them is important, even if you are isolating at home to keep safe. You can read more here

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 selfcare.  

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 COVID19.  

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 placebocontrolled 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 
jbunting@desertaidsproject.org 

(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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Revivals After-Dark Event Raised Funds a …

Revivals After-Dark Event Raised Funds and Evoked Origins of DAP 

Mental health advocacy and patient access were focus

(Palm Springs, CA) November 19, 2020 — This community raised $6,000 in the first hour as it shopped last Sunday for all things leather at the Revivals After Dark Back Alley Event.

Volunteers worked to make the event safe, so that everyone attending could focus on finding incredible deals on a variety of leather clothing, plus accessories, erotic art and literature. These items are donated to Revivals Stores throughout the year and put aside for this special occasion.

Hosting the event outdoors was the right thing to do for safety, and it also created an urban feel that was enhanced with upbeat music as people shopped.

“We did this to say thank you to the Leather Community also,” says Michael McCartney, Revivals area manager. “From day one they have been a major part of Revivals.”

For some, it was an opportunity to experience a popular gay subculture that can be intimidating and costly as well.

“This event gives people who want to explore leather, kink, and fetish, but who don’t want to invest too much money up front,” says Charlie Harding, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2020.  “They get to dip their toe in the water.”

There is more to it than that, he says.

“We’re providing a sex-positive environment that welcomes everyone to come together while we raise money for healthcare access and mental health awareness,” Charlie says.

Volunteers Hosted and Monitored Safety

Revivals volunteer Mark Musin is usually running the lamps department, but he and about 40 other volunteers pulled together and set up a browsing experience that put safety and spaciousness first.

“We used more tables than I thought we would, and we put more space in between them for social distancing,” he says.

Mark and the team placed all of the art for sale facing in one direction, a move to help guide the flow of people walking without getting too close.

“We did the same thing with books and accessories,” Mark says. “We could not have anyone feeling as though they were crowded.”

Throughout the event Mark and the team used mobile devices to monitor crowd size and report in with each other.  From inside the Palm Springs Revivals store and throughout the back alley, volunteers were ensuring everything was orderly, although guests were already eager to comply with safety guidelines.

“Customers know we take safety seriously, and they are supportive,” Mark says.

And not just at the Leather Event.

“Every morning there is a line before the store opens, and it’s because Revivals customers know it is safe.” Mark says.

Raising Awareness for Mental Health Advocacy

Taking a community approach for mental health advocacy, DAP co-sponsored this pop-up event to support work by Charlie Harding, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2020, and his organization to bring more people into services they need.

“I try to help people understand and get past the stigma of mental illness,” he says.

While mental health challenges disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people, the CDC says COVID is increasing them for everyone and overwhelming communities.

According to Charlie, when someone is struggling with a mental health challenge, everyone in their life needs to be united in providing support. He educates the leather community on the red flags that someone who is struggling may display, and how to offer help to that person.

“To help people feel better, you need your doctors, the support groups, the families and friends all to be supportive of each other,” Charlie says. “To improve quality of life.”

After years of raising awareness for more LGBTQ+ mental health access, Charlie believes it is finally translating into more available services locally, as advocates and health experts continue pointing to alarming statistics.

“The LGBTQ+ community has led the way in calling attention to it because of our higher suicide rates and societal negativity that is still in place around coming out,” he says. “But we are starting to see support groups and mental health services available, and it will increase the quality of life for everybody who struggles.”

Getting past stigma, towards understanding

“You tell people you have diabetes and they’re ok, but you say you are bipolar, and they immediately take pause,” Charlie says.

Stigma around mental illness can keep people from seeking services. But by openly sharing about his life with bipolar disorder, Charlie helps bring hope to others who are struggling. Describing the feelings can help people understand.

“It’s feeling like you rule the world,” he says. “And then, feeling like it’s about to end.”

He also describes how confusing it can be if friends and family don’t understand what mental health challenges look like.

“You’ll see someone who seems to be the life of the party,” he says, “And you cannot understand why they might have such mood swings and get so low.”

The alley has a very special significance to DAP 

Decades ago in an office above, 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.

It seemed fitting that in the midst of another pandemic, volunteers were once again using the space for an unintended purpose–to promote the welfare of the community.

About Charlie Harding, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2020

As Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2020, Charlie hopes to further issues important to him and our community such as sex positivity, mental health support, and gender diversity. He is developing a mental health initiative “Charlie Harding’s Angel Project in Service,” also known as CHAPS, and working towards eliminating the stigma attached to mental illness. Find out more at mrpalmspringsleather.com.

About Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert 

PSLOD welcomes community members to explore membership in our organization. All new members are required to complete a pledge process prior to assuming the duties of a PSLOD General Member. Find out more at pslod.org. 

About Revivals

The very first Revivals store was opened in 1995, in a back corner of the Desert AIDS Project office on Vella Road. Since those earliest days, the funds raised through selling donated goods at Revivals has gone back to support client services at D.A.P., while also providing a great volunteer opportunity for those who wanted to support the organization with their time and retail talents. Today, all of the stores are largely volunteer-run, enabling Revivals to make a significant financial contribution to the annual budget of Desert AIDS Project, which has earned a national reputation as one of the most comprehensive HIV/AIDS service providers in the U.S. Learn more at www.revivalsstores.com.

About DAP Health

DAP Health (DAP) is a humanitarian health center in Palm Springs, CA serving more than 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.

Visit www.desertaidsproject.org to learn more.

More HIV Care with Updated HIVMA Guideli …

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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ViiV SOLAR Study at DAP: Injectable ART …

ViiV SOLAR Study at DAP: Injectable ART every 2-Months

Diversity was key in choosing participants

DAP Health is one of the few health centers in the U.S. working on a study using only six injections per year for maintaining viral suppression in people with HIV (PWH). The SOLAR study with ViiV Healthcare began in November and will last one year. 

The FDA approved once-monthly Cabenuva injections to treat HIV in January 2021. 

At this time, the participant panel is complete, and no applications are being accepted. 

For some PWH, taking medication in pill form every day is difficult, and it can cause poor adherence that harms their health and puts others at risk. Traditional HIV meds can also lead to side effects with long term use. 

Participants in the SOLAR Study at DAP will receive intramuscular (IM) injections of CABENUVA every two months for HIV treatment.  This regimen is not publicly available, but it holds a lot of promise for DAP patients, according to Dr. Tulika Singh, DAP director of research. 

It was important to Dr. Singh that the SOLAR Study at DAP includes participants who are usually underrepresented in HIV research: cisgender women and transgender women. 

“With the help of this study, we are able to start closing a research gap,” said Dr. Singh, “and we can contribute to serving these patient groups better.” 

Specifically, this phase IIIb, randomized, multicenter, parallel-group, non-inferiority, open-label study will evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of switching to long-acting Cabotegravir plus long-acting Rilpivirine from a Bictegravir single tablet regimen in HIV-1 infected adults who are virologically suppressed. 

Once-Monthly CABENUVA is Available in Canada 

Health Canada approved a once-monthly version of CABENUVA for use there in March. CABENUVA is the first and only complete long-acting regimen for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults to replace traditional antiretroviral therapy. 

About DAP Health  

DAP Health (DAP) is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 8,000 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.      

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

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

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.      

About ViiV Healthcare 
ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV and for people who are at risk of becoming infected with HIV. Shionogi joined in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and innovative medicines for HIV treatment and prevention, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com. 

About GSK 
GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com. 

DAP Patients Joining ANCHOR Study for An …

DAP Patients Joining ANCHOR Study for Anal Health

(Palm Springs, CA) October 21, 2020 — There are only four places on the entire West Coast where people living with HIV / AIDS (PLWHA) can participate in The ANCHOR Study, and DAP Health Center is one of them. HPV-related anal cancer disproportionately harms PLWHA, especially cisgender gay men and transgender women. Unfortunately, prevention, treatment and support are difficult for them to find. Now, DAP patients can receive long term screenings and treatment, thanks to our designation as an ANCHOR Study site.

DAP medical and research clinicians worked hard to earn a place in this groundbreaking project. ANCHOR Study seeks to stop cases of preventable anal cancer in PLWHA by establishing testing and treatment protocols.

There are 40 participants enrolled at DAP so far, and “the team is welcoming more,” according to Dr. David Morris, chief medical officer. Participants are paid $100 per study visit to compensate for time, effort, and travel expenses.

For many DAP patients living with HIV, screening and treatment for a variety of cancers is part of their continuum of HIV care. If they take part in ANCHOR Study, they will monitor and support their anal health with top doctors and researchers, staying in contact for five-to-eight years. They will be contributing to groundbreaking scientific research that will help save lives in the future.

Living with HIV puts many of our patients at higher risk for anal cancer, even if they are on successful antiretroviral therapy (ART). ANCHOR Study aims to show treatment of pre-cancerous cells will lead to a reduction of 75% of incident HPV-related anal cancer.

Anyone interested in the ANCHOR Study is invited to contact Greg Jackson, DAP research coordinator, at (760) 992-0445 or gjackson@desertaidsproject.org. To read more about ANCHOR Study at DAP click here.

More about ANCHOR Study

“No one knew that cervical cancer was preventable before the use of Pap smears became widespread in the 1960s and cut the incidence of the disease by 80 percent.”- Dr. Joel Palefsky, Principal Investigator

While deaths from AIDS are way down, anal cancer among people living with HIV is on the rise. We think that anal cancer can be prevented by routine screening and removal of precancerous cells. This strategy has reduced cervical cancer rates by 80%. But to get the insurance companies to cover routine anal cancer screening and preventative treatment, we need to prove that this strategy actually prevents cancer. The best way to show that is to recruit people with High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions (or HSIL for short) into a study and assign them randomly to a treatment arm or a monitoring arm. We then follow everyone for five years to compare the rates of cancer in both study arms. At the end of the study we’ll know whether screening and treatment of HSIL are effective strategies in preventing anal cancer. We’ll also learn a lot about HPV and other risk factors and why these sometimes cause cancer.

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 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.
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