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Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month 

By Leighton Ginn

HIV has disproportionately affected the Hispanic population, but DAP Health’s Ruth Diaz De Leon said what has hurt the community will also be its most valuable weapon in stopping the spread – communication.  

A CDC report said a fifth of the population with HIV are Latinos, and a quarter of all new cases are Latino. In 2018, Hispanics and Latinos made up 27 percent of the 37,968 new HIV diagnosis in the US.  

As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, we take a look at how HIV has affected this segment of the population, which has been hit hard.  

De Leon, the community health educator, said the main issue is communication, or the lack of it.  

In the CDC report, 1 in 6 Hispanic/Latinos with HIV are unaware they have it.  

“From what we’ve seen with patients here, typically they grow up not speaking about sexual health with their families because there is some shame that comes with it and being judged. It hinders them from learning about protection and how things are transmitted,” De Leon said.  “It can be pretty difficult just because most of them are in that mentality that they weren’t raised to speak about this and they don’t want to know about this.” 

What has been effective for De Leon is understanding how to relate to them. When patients come into DAP Health to talk about HIV and AIDS, De Leon presents the facts to them. While the facts are important, she said the next level is to relate to them by sharing antidotal information that will resonate with them.  De Leon is a native of the Coachella Valley, having grown up in Desert Hot Springs, and understands the nuances of the community.  

“I’m also Hispanic and I can relate to them pretty well. I’ll let them know, ‘I know this is how it was, but let me just tell you what I know and we can go from here.’ We also let them know it’s confidential what we speak about and if they have any questions,” De Leon said. “That usually breaks down the wall with them. They’re like ‘OK.’  

“We’ve provided them with the tools in a judge-free zone, so they know to come here.” 

De Leon has worked at DAP Health for three years and feels they have made progress.  She feels that by reaching out to the community, they have built up DAP’s reputation through word of mouth.  

“That’s what has been happening with us here. That’s how it’s gotten better,” De Leon said. “It’s about providing a judgement-free conversation. It opens them up to want to wanting to learn more and being open minded.” 

 

 

History hides in the initials we use for …

History hides in the initials we use for the lesbian, gay and transgender communities

Sometimes an abbreviation or acronym is more than the sum of its letters.

Take the well-known abbreviation LGBT and longer variants, like LGBTQQIAAP. Those letters represent our entire community, lesbians; gays; bisexuals; transgender people; and those identifying as queer, intersex, asexual, and more.

Did you notice the letter with which all those abbreviations start? That L represents a long history and a lot of controversy in the gay rights movement.

About 70 years ago, people sexually attracted to the same gender used to be called homosexuals. That word didn't age well.

Then in the 1950s and 1960s, people began referring to homosexuals as homophiles. That didn't age well either.

In the 1970s, the word gay became embraced by the men formerly known as homosexuals. As the gay rights movement grew, lesbians wanted to create their own identities.

Unfortunately, during this turbulent time, animosity began to grow between gay men and lesbians. The genders simply were in different camps, says Dr. Jill "Dr. G" Gover, Director of Behavioral Health at DAP Health.

The women felt gay men were sexist and behaved the way all men did at the time, which was to marginalize them, Dr. G says. There was even a subgroup of lesbians who wanted to separate and have nothing to do with gay men. They were more aligned with straight women around feminist issues.

As the gay rights movement expanded during the late 1970s, the abbreviation gays and lesbians began to use for their large, varied community was GLBT. It started with a G, which only underscored how many lesbians felt about their place in the community.

Many women active in gay rights felt it was time to address that issue, says Dr. G., who taught LGBTQ+ history at California State University, San Bernardino. And people started to become more aware of the role lesbians played within the gay rights movement.

Moving an L in front of a G may seem trivial to many, but symbols don't have to be grand gestures. That change was meant to honor the women who also were part of the gay rights movement, Dr. G says.

The AIDS crisis in the 1980s changed everything.

As the Reagan Revolution swept across the nation and the Material Girl told us she felt "Like A Virgin" before assuring us she would keep her baby, scores of gay men contracted HIV and died of AIDS. It was an exploding, unstoppable pandemic whose barbarity is too easy to forget 40 years later.

We learned that "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" while "Video Killed the Radio Star." MTV landed on the moon and shaped a generation. Steven Spielberg introduced us to E.T., while ALF hid out in the San Fernando Valley. Betamax lost to VHS. The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics. Four years later, the Soviet Union followed suit. Pac-Man took the country by storm, and everyone tried to solve a puzzle in a cube. Freddie Mercury stole the show at Wembley Stadium in 1985 during Live Aid. Two years later, he tested positive for AIDS and died four years after that.

That was the 1980s, and it felt like no one in America cared about those who died of AIDS.

Many of the sick and dying men didn't have children or were estranged from their biological families, says Dr. G. Too many had no one. Lesbians stepped up and started to take care of those dying of AIDS, becoming primary caregivers to the sick and dying.

"That was a huge shift in terms of the community coming together and healing around the riffs between the men and the women,"  Dr. G says.

Because of the compassion and humanity lesbians showed gay men, much of the separatism of the 1970s disappeared in the 1980s. The LGBTQ+ community began to see their future linked as they worked together to survive the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

The LGBT community is large and complex, with many groups, subcultures, organizations, and histories. There are many initials people use to identify it, including LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, LGBTI, LGBTQQ, and more.

Each one of those initials starts with an L. The placement of that L is far from trivial. It's a recognition that lesbians are not second-class members of their community. In reality, they kept the community together during its darkest days.

A lot is at stake in Tuesday’s guberna …

A lot is at stake in Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

Vote for health

A person's health impacts whether or not they vote, and those who do vote shape the state's health care policy. This cycle can have a negative impact on marginalized communities if those with poor health vote less often than healthier citizens, which they do.

On Tuesday, Sept. 14, voters will be asked if Gov. Gavin Newsom should remain the governor of California. The recall ballot then asks voters to choose a person to replace Newsom should a majority of voters decide to replace him.

If Newsom avoids being recalled, state policies that impact health — from housing to education — will likely stay the same. If he is recalled, state policies could change in unknown ways.

A conversation with Erasure’s Andy Bell 

DAP Health’s Steven Henke, Director of Brand Marketing, caught up with Andy Bell via email to talk about his career, his new album "The View from Halfway Down," and his September 18 keynote address at the Aging Positively – Reunion Project HIV and aging conference.

Bell is a founding member of Erasure. Now, three decades into their career, they are considered one of the most adored and influential synth-pop bands. Bell shed some positive vibes on his life and the creative renaissance he is experiencing.

More than a Little Respect – A Convers …

Photo Credit: Erika Wagner

More than a Little Respect  A Conversation with Erasure’s Andy Bell 

By Steven Henke 

As seen in The Standard Magazine

I caught up with Andy Bell via email to talk about his career, his new album "The View from Halfway Down," and his September 18 keynote address at the Aging Positively – Reunion Project HIV and aging conference. Bell shed some positive vibes on his life and the creative renaissance he is experiencing 

Bell is a founding member of Erasure. Formed in 1985, when former Depeche Mode and Yazoo member Vince Clarke advertised for a new singer, the duo became successful in the U.K., U.S., and other countries with hits like "Chains of Love," "A Little Respect," and "Oh L'Amour." 

Now, three decades into their career, they are considered one of the most adored and influential synth-pop bands, selling more than 25 million records. In 2019, Erasure released their 18th studio album, "The Neon." 

Question: Thank you for talking with us. It has been a crazy year. You split your time between London and Miami. Where are you today? 

Answer: Finally, after a year and seven months, I'm back in Miami with my hubby after quarantining for two weeks in Cancun. I feel a huge sense of relief. Everyone was beginning to question my sanity and whether our relationship was real or not, or if I had just woken up from a strange dream!  

Q: I read there was a time during the pandemic when you were in lockdown in London and your husband, Stephen, and dog were in Florida. How did the lockdown change you? Did you learn anything new about yourself? 

A: I learned for the first time in my life that I could actually live with myself and do things for myself. I may have been a bit smelly, and I may not have washed as frequently as I should have, but hey, what the hell. I never lived on my own since leaving home at 18 from a large family, and I was dependent on other people. It was great to do my laundry, wash up and go grocery shopping. I love TV, so I can be a real couch potato. There were quite a few Erasure-related things to do, having just finished our photo session and mixing right before the pandemic broke, so I had many Zoom meetings.  

Q:  Many members of the LGBTQ+ community struggled with isolation and mental health during the pandemic. How did you take care of yourself? 

A:  I must admit, I did go back into my shell somewhat and did not speak to people or my family up to the point that they would worry and text to see if I was OK! The worst thing was not knowing when it would end. Canceling four flights made me feel like the red tape was somehow gagging me. Eventually, I had friends over, got stoned and drunk, and had a complete bitch and conspiracy theory fest. It helped tremendously! I'm glad I'm slightly mad, and so are my friends, but I think the LGBTQ crew has to be somewhat to survive. In the U.K., we are fortunate to have the National Health Service, which the U.S. seems to be so frightened of. The word "socialism" is just a word. How can you be scared of a word? It's just about non-profit organizations helping other people. Humans need one another, not this constant bickering, blaming, and point scoring! I did revert to my childhood in many ways, ordering lots of licorice and ice pops. And I did some online counseling, but that lasted three sessions (too boring), plus I got a bit sick of celebs doing their survival blogs, etc. Not that I am bitter (hehehe)! 

Q: Despite the pandemic, you have been experiencing a creative renaissance, releasing a new album, "The Neon!" The album has been described as one of 2020s most elevating moments in an otherwise difficult year. Did you have a team with you, or was making this album a more solitary experience?   

A: As I said, it had already been recorded just in time the previous October. (And I have to admit, I was very sober making it.) It was so refreshing that Vince had already recorded the backing tracks and musical scores in Brooklyn, and I vocalized the top lines in his home studio. There was an excitement in the air. I felt a new appreciation for the new wave music I had listened to as a teenager, and it bled into our new songs.  

Q: Before the pandemic, you released Erasure's 18th album, "The Neon." The album had a feel-good dance vibe that was great for keeping our spirits up during the lockdown. How did you choose the name for that album?  

A: "The Neon" conveys to me the red-light district nightlife and memories of the fairground. I love soft mezcal neon against ancient stone! 

Q: Erasure's 1988 single "A Little Respect" was voted the "Ultimate Pride Anthem" in a new poll from radio station Virgin Radio Pride UK, beating out anthems by Xtina, Gaga, Cher, and Madonna. What did that feel like?  

A:  We were completely taken by surprise by it. I admire the Virgin brand, and two of our favorite DJs now work there, Chris Evans and Graham Norton. It is great to be in such esteemed company on the list, so to speak. I suppose these things are cyclical.  

Q: Take us back 36 years; what were you doing when you answered Vince Clarke's ad looking for a new singer? Is it true you were selling ladies' shoes while starting your singing career? 

A: Yes, and laughing hysterically when I got static electric shocks from the metal stands because of the nylon carpets.  

Q: Did you have any idea when you met Clarke that you would be making music together 36 years later? Is it still exciting to imagine new music together?   

A: Vince Clarke was THE person I dreamed of working with, so, it goes without saying, I think he was a straight man looking for a gay husband! Time has flown by and honestly has no meaning for me!  

Q: You were one of the first openly gay pop stars, and you famously used fashion to make bold statements. Was there a message you hoped to send to other members of the LGBTQ+ community when you wore your iconic outfits? To me, I saw a brave Gay man. Was everyone supportive, or did you face pushback?  

A: It was fine. I didn't want there to be any doubt in anyone's mind as to who I was, and the campiness was somewhat of an armor. When "Sometimes" took off in the mid-1980s, I wore a white T-shirt and jeans. The first few videos from "Wonderland" were so camp, MTV was not going to touch them. It wasn't a sophisticated look like it is today because of RuPaul (God bless him). However, when the airplay started to drop off somewhat, I remember someone saying, "oh, can't you just put a dress back on!" 

Q: In 2004, you announced that you had been HIV positive for six years. Tell me about the process of making that decision. Did you know it would inspire others to know their status?  

A: I was scared at the time, and it took a few years for me to process it. At that time, a witch hunt was in full flow in the U.K. press. This is something I will discuss further at the conference.  

Q: You've been open about being gay since the 1980s and about having HIV. That openness helped many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, and it helped allies understand what they could not experience. Are you able to appreciate the impact you made? Who encouraged or inspired you to be authentic? 

A: To be honest, I think you are born with it. My mother was also very instrumental because she's basically a punk at heart who doesn't give a shit! I don't think about it too much. I love to be free and enjoy myself. Also, I rejected religion at about age 11.  

Q: You are the keynote speaker at the September 18 HIV and aging conference. How does living with HIV impact your life today? 

A: I am so grateful to be alive and be a beneficiary of the cutting-edge science used to create our medications. I salute all of those who passed before us and the brave activists who still fight for us every day. Never take your "freedom" for granted, although to me, it is a God-given right. It can be taken away at the stroke of a pen, usually by the people who believe they love Jesus. (So do I!) Love CANNOT be offensive. It is a misguided conception. 

Q: Every life and career has its ups and downs. How do you find inspiration today to keep the process fresh and exciting for yourself? How do you walk through the downtimes?  

A: Stop listening to music for a while, do a play, forget who you are, and just mingle. Sometimes a good dance helps.  

Q: You have uniquely dedicated fans that look forward to hearing their favorite songs when you perform. Do you have a favorite song that you look forward to playing at every concert?   

A: "Blue Savannah."  

What: The Aging Positively — Reunion Project 6th annual HIV conference is a collaboration between the HIV+ Aging Research Project—Palm Springs and other nonprofit community partners. It will be a virtual conference consisting of a mix of facilitated discussions, panels, and presentations led by key researchers, advocates, and long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS.  

When:  The 6th Annual Aging Positively — Reunion Project virtual conference will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2021. 

Where:  Attendees can attend the conference from the digital device of their choice.  In-person elements may be announced later.  

How: Registration is free and open on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hiv-aging-virtual-conference-tickets-162082616469

‘Immediately call 911’: Brendan Burk …

‘Immediately call 911’: Brendan Burke on overdoses

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO

Brendan Burke reminds us which overdose signs to watch out for on International Overdose Awareness Day

Too many people’s lives end in overdose, making them another statistic in the nation’s fight against illicit drugs and abused medications, like opioids.

International Overdose Awareness Day is August 31. It was created to bring awareness to overdose deaths and remember the people who died. And it is a day to acknowledge the grief of their family and friends.

To mark the day, we talked with Brendan Burke, a Substance Use Specialist here at DAP Health, about overdoses. Burke is a Substance Use Specialist here at DAP Health. He also is a registered counselor.

Conversations about HIV and aging

September 18 is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day — a day to call attention to the growing number of people living long and full lives with HIV and to aging-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.

Representing a variety of local organizations, Conversations about HIV & Aging shares the perspectives and wisdom of four local individuals who are thriving because of the support they receive. 

Those community members shared with us their future goals; the challenges they’ve faced aging with HIV; how the U=U message has shifted their outlook on dating and connection; how they have taken care of their mental health; what has inspired them; and more.

Read more by Bridgette, 48, who has been living with HIV for 8.5 years; Nicholas, 59, living with HIV for 14 years; Brett, 60, living with HIV for 28 years; and Guillermo, 55, living with HIV for 30 years.

People living with HIV are invited to attend Aging Positively — Reunion Project virtual conference. The keynote speaker will be singer Andy Bell from the synth-pop duo Erasure.

Vaccines protect patients from diseases …

Stock image

Vaccines protect patients from diseases like measles, chickenpox, COVID-19

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

Vaccines protect millions from disease, suffering and death

Thanks to the incredible advances in health science since 1798, when British doctor Edward Jenner started inoculating people against smallpox with the material he obtained from cowpox lesions, doctors across the world can now protect their patients against untold suffering and death.

Today vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in the fight against the viruses and bacteria that make us sick and even kill us. They protect against diseases like chickenpox, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, COVID-19 and more.

DAP Health magazine helps community members live their best life

DAP Health has published the first edition of our new magazine. The publication is a gift to our community. We want to make it easier for you to find the information you need to live your best life.

While we put a great deal of time into publishing content online, we know that many of you are making a greater effort to manage your screen time by unplugging and curling up with a great book or periodical. If you can relate to that kind of self-care, our new magazine is for you.

DAP Health reaches out to trans patients …

DAP Health reaches out to trans patients and Latino men

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

‘It’s a very important element of creating safe spaces’: Velasco talks about pronouns

Pronouns affirm an individual's humanity and help reduce stigma and obstacles to health care. In short, they matter. They create a safe space for DAP Health’s patients, says Anthony Velasco, Senior Nurse Practitioner Specialist at DAP Health.

A significant number of transgender and gender diverse adults avoided accessing health care services because of the stigma related to discrimination. When somebody does not acknowledge their gender identity, that could be perceived as a form of discrimination.

By doing simple, concrete things like making sure we have ways to identify people's pronouns and their chosen names, DAP Health can prevent barriers to care, says Velasco. The health care clinic works to create safe spaces for transgender people across the organization. 

Health Insights: Local organizations collaborate on HIV and aging conference 

Health Insights: DAP Health works to stop hepatitis C and COVID-19

‘They're not just going to walk into our doors’: Tobe discusses how DAP Health is working with Latino men

Across the nation, HIV cases have increased in Latino men. In the Coachella Valley, DAP Health also has seen the number of HIV cases in Latino men under the age of 40 increase, according to C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness Services at DAP Health.

DAP Health has found that while Latino men under the age of 40 may get diagnosed with HIV in a mobile clinic at a health fair in Indio, for example, they would have gone years without an HIV test, or even knowing they were living with HIV, if DAP Health had not brought services to them in the east valley, Tobe says.

Tobe says DAP Health is doing many things to reach this population.

DAP Health in the news

Local organizations collaborate on HIV a …

Keynote speaker Andy Bell of Erasure, left, and Karl Schmid, the entertainment reporter for ABC7 LA
Keynote speaker Andy Bell of Erasure, left, and Karl Schmid, the entertainment reporter for ABC7 LA

Local organizations collaborate on HIV and aging conference 

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

Aging Positively — Reunion Project set Sept. 18, 2021  

September 18 is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day — a day to call attention to the growing number of people living long and full lives with HIV and to aging-related challenges of HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.   

Aging Positively — Reunion Project,” the annual Coachella Valley conference aimed at providing practical information and inspiration for those aging with HIV, will bring together community leaders to improve the lives of older adults living with HIV for a virtual conference that will be open to the public. 

Presented by Eisenhower Health, this year's free event results from a unique collaboration among local service providers and organizations focused on improving the shared experience of older adults living with HIV. It will feature an HIV research panel of top experts discussing HIV and aging issues.

DAP Health in the news

DAP Health works to stop hepatitis C and …

Dr. Shubha Kerkar speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Dr. Shubha Kerkar speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.

DAP Health works to stop hepatitis C and COVID-19

DAP Health Insights – Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

DAP Health marks World Hepatitis Day with hepatitis C forum  

Last Wednesday’s World Hepatitis Day was an opportunity for health care providers, activists, patients and their loved ones to increase awareness of the disease. DAP Health marked the occasion by sponsoring our third hepatitis C forum for Coachella Valley recovery centers and partners.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer. There are five main strains of the virus — A, B, C, D and E. The most common are hepatitis B and C, which result in 1.1 million deaths and 3 million new infections per year.

DAP Health announces COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees

Due to the recent COVID-19 surge and the availability of safe and effective vaccines, DAP Health announced Friday that it would require its 229 employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The new requirement includes the organization's health care campus in Palm Springs and its four Revivals stores across the Coachella Valley.

The announcement comes as hospitalizations and deaths are rising throughout the United States due to the substantial number of unvaccinated people and the highly contagious Delta variant. Vaccination is the primary way to put the pandemic to rest.

“As DAP Health and the health care community lead the way in requiring vaccines for our team members, DAP Health hopes all employers across the valley will follow our lead and implement policies to encourage vaccination,” said Dr. David Morris, DAP Health Chief Medical Officer. ”The health and safety of individuals, families and the Coachella Valley depend on it.”

Five minutes with Dr. Tulika Singh

Dr. Tulika Singh, Director of Research at DAP Health, is a board-certified HIV specialist and infectious disease and internal medicine physician. Before joining DAP Health, she completed an infectious disease fellowship in Wisconsin. She then worked at a couple of Michigan hospitals.

Singh was born in India, where she went to medical school. She moved to the United States to enhance her education and completed her residency in Ohio. Since moving to California, Singh has settled into the Palm Springs lifestyle and has made the desert her home.

‘Together Again’ ending the HIV epid …

Desert AIDS Walk

‘Together Again’ ending the HIV epidemic

DAP Health Insights – Monday, July 26, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

DAP Health to open registration for Desert AIDS Walk 2021 

 More than 2,000 local humanitarians will come together to end the HIV epidemic, expand healthcare access, and remember those friends and family members who we lost because of AIDS.  

The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk will be an in-person event Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, beginning at Ruth Hardy Park and following a route through downtown Palm Springs. The family and pet-friendly event includes a Health and Wellness Festival presented by Walgreens.

The annual Desert AIDS Walk helps fund the vital work of DAP Health. Registration opens August 2 at www.desertaidswalk.org. 

DAP Health honors Annette Bloch

DAP Health honors the passing of philanthropist and beloved community leader Annette Bloch, who will be remembered for meeting her personal goal of “improving the lives of others.” The philanthropist found joy in seeing her generous gifts change lives in Kansas City and Palm Springs, the communities she called home. 

Bloch became part of DAP Health’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis after her friend Barbara Keller gave her a tour of the organization’s campus. She used her philanthropy to help DAP Health fulfill its mission of enhancing community health and well-being. Her endorsement invited countless others to fund the organization. 

‘Together Again’ ending the HIV epidemic

DAP Health Insights – Monday, July 26, 2021, from David Brinkman, CEO 

DAP Health to open registration for Desert AIDS Walk 2021 

 More than 2,000 local humanitarians will come together to end the HIV epidemic, expand healthcare access, and remember those friends and family members who we lost because of AIDS.  

The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk will be an in-person event Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, beginning at Ruth Hardy Park and following a route through downtown Palm Springs. The family and pet-friendly event includes a Health and Wellness Festival presented by Walgreens.

The annual Desert AIDS Walk helps fund the vital work of DAP Health. Registration opens August 2 at www.desertaidswalk.org. 

DAP Health honors Annette Bloch

DAP Health honors the passing of philanthropist and beloved community leader Annette Bloch, who will be remembered for meeting her personal goal of “improving the lives of others.” The philanthropist found joy in seeing her generous gifts change lives in Kansas City and Palm Springs, the communities she called home. 

Bloch became part of DAP Health’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis after her friend Barbara Keller gave her a tour of the organization’s campus. She used her philanthropy to help DAP Health fulfill its mission of enhancing community health and well-being. Her endorsement invited countless others to fund the organization. 

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