Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Monday - Friday

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

DAP Health Advocates for and Supports LG …

DAP Health Advocates for and Supports LGBTQ+ Community at Greater Palm Spring Pride 

DAP Health walked with pride alongside a bright progressive rainbow of other community organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community during the 35th Annual Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival.  The advocacy-based healthcare organization has provided community healthcare since 1984 and proudly sponsored this year's community stage which highlighted local talent. 

This year's Pride event drew tens of thousands of enthusiastic participants from around the globe who gathered in Palm Springs for a weekend of community, music, friends, and of course, the legendary Palm Springs Pride Parade which featured over 250 entrants this year. 

“It was overwhelming to be together again at this year’s parade,” says Nick Valenziano, DAP Health Manager of Executive Affairs.  Valenziano organized DAP Health’s participation in Pride this year alongside a committee made up of DAP Health employees.  “As I watched the street fill up with all the participants, it really hit me that I hadn’t been among the community in this way in such a long time.” 

DAP Health’s Pride Parade contingent returned to its advocacy roots this year inviting employees and supporters to carry signs that amplified the organization's commitment to health equity. Some of the signs read “No Stigma,” “Sex Work Is Work,” “Mental Health is Health”, “Black Lives Matter,” and “U=U”.   

DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing, Steven Henke explains.  “Our approach was to focus our messaging on the very real challenges faced by the communities we serve.  Stigma and shame remain barriers to health care for too many people living with HIV or mental health challenges.  The U=U campaign (undetectable equals untransmittable) aims to end the stigma around HIV that keeps too many people from getting tested for HIV or obtaining the care they need to stay healthy. At the end of the day, the message we wanted to deliver is that DAP Health welcomes all people. Period."    

“You could feel the energy moving in both directions, all of us greeting them and them waving back, shouting and clapping,” Valenziano said. “It was like we were all rediscovering humanity.”   

DAP Health’s Department of Community Health team provided education, counseling, and testing to hundreds of Pride goers who took advantage of free and confidential HIV testing, STI testing, PrEP consultations, and the condom bar offerings.  The message they delivered:  We offer judgment FREE testing and treatment.  

DAP Health's focus on sexual wellness remains on the forefront of a trend that has seen an increase in STI's 

CJ Tobe, Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness at DAP Health, explains "we’ve continued to see an increase in STIs through the COVID pandemic, but even more specifically in the last 6 months we’ve seen a significant increase in syphilis and gonorrhea.”   

DAP Health continues to offer free services in its Orange Clinic.  Free services include testing and treatment for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis;HIV and hepatitis C testing; andpre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP— treatments available for those at risk of coming into contact with HIV and those who may have already been exposed to it. 

The Orange Clinic provides anyone who tests positive for HIV with rapid start medication and links them to care. 

DAP Health offers free grief group for t …

DAP Health offers free grief group for those who've lost ones they love 

The holiday season is a time of joy, but it can also be a period of stress and anxiety for many of us—and even tinged with sadness if you're unable to spend it with family, or have recently lost someone special.  

Yet according to Dr. Jill Gover, DAP Health's Director of Behavioral Health, it’s normal to feel sad this time of year if someone has recently died. "Don’t pretend to be happy just because it’s the holiday season." 

To help people on their journey through what may be a difficult holiday season for them, DAP Health is offering "Grief’s Courageous Journey: A Bereavement Therapy Group." This free, 10-week program—which begins on December 1—has been designed to process grief and the loss of a loved one. Based on the workbook titled “Grief’s Courageous Journey,” Dr. Gover created a 12-week curriculum seven years ago when she was the Mental Health Director at the Scott Hines Mental Health Clinic @ The Center. "I had found the book was very helpful to grieving patients and I wanted to create a structured treatment protocol that would lend itself to group work," she says. 

The therapy group is limited to a maximum of 12 to 15 people (and can be as small as 6 participants) and is a "closed group," meaning the same people attend each week. "At the beginning, everyone reviews the confidentiality code and is asked not to discuss anything personal about group members outside of the group," says Dr. Gover. "Trust comes from sharing the therapeutic exercises and getting to know each other over time—and because it's a closed group that makes it easier to trust others."  

She goes on to say that, "This is a very specific, evidenced-based structured psycho-educational bereavement group that uses therapeutic exercises to help participants process their grief." So it's unlike regular group therapy which is not focused on a specific topic.  

"The therapeutic exercises help the group participants to identify and acknowledge their feelings, explore any survivor’s guilt, resentment or anger that might be stuffed away, provides opportunity to reflect on all aspects of the death, and then offers ways to move forward," explains Dr. Gover. 

The group will meet in person on Wednesdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in DAP Health's Behavioral Health Clinic. For more information, or to enroll, contact Ian Struthers, LCSW at 760-323-2118, extension 408. 

If you're unable to participate in the group, try to remember that the holidays don't have to be perfect. Dr. Gover has pointed out that it's vital to recognize that others are also experiencing holiday stress and depression. "I think it’s really important to be kind to yourself, reassess, and let go of perfectionistic, unrealistic expectations, and perhaps establish new rituals for the holidays this year that reflect who you are now." 

Anti-Anxiety Notebook – How journals h …

Anti-Anxiety Notebook – How journals help serve as beneficial tools for our self-care   

It may seem like a quaint idea in our digital-mad era but, sometimes, one of the best ways to relieve anxiety is to grab a pen and write in a journal. "I LOVE journaling as a therapeutic intervention, and I use it frequently with patients," says Dr. Jill Gover, DAP Health's Director of Behavioral Health. (By the way, everyone who knows Dr. Gover calls her "Dr. G.")

As evidence of the renewed interest in journaling, a recent article in The New York Times noted that, "Over many centuries, journals have served as tools for recording history, as emotional outlets and as creative stimulants." The Times story goes on to mention a logbook titled "The Anti-Anxiety Notebook." Its publishers say that it provides users with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-based entries to "help you track your emotions, become more aware of thought patterns, and grow over time specifically to reduce anxiety and manage stress."

But, wait, maybe you're asking yourself, "What's CBT? You're not alone if you haven't heard of it. CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps people become more aware of their negative thinking so they can change their way of looking at things and respond in a more positive manner to challenging situations.

"Whether I give a patient CBT handouts, or they use a journal to identify the feelings, thoughts, and distorted thinking patterns in order to reframe perspective, the therapeutic experience is the same," says Dr. G. She adds that the Anti-Anxiety Notebook is a great tool to be used in conjunction with therapy and that it includes a lot of the same exercises and strategies that she uses in therapy from other sources, like “The Anxiety Workbook.”

But she goes on to say that she also thinks it's important that people don't just use journaling on their own as a replacement for therapy. "It doesn’t work that way. Self-help material is wonderful and a great resource, but it needs to be used along with therapy to be truly effective."

Dr. G explains that some of the components she uses in CBT treatment of anxiety involve breathing/relaxation techniques; cognitive restructuring, where you challenge distorted "catastrophizing" (How else might you look at this situation that is not worst case scenario?); exposure to the feared stimulus; and ritual prevention.

"We all worry, but people with anxiety disorders have a 'faulty alarm system' that is hypersensitive to danger," she says. "Therefore they experience a lot of 'false positives' where they think they are in danger and they’re not. The goals of CBT treatment for anxiety involve learning how to block fear structures. CBT techniques increase tolerance for distress by replacing negative thought such as 'I can’t cope' to 'I can cope.' With anxiety, the goal isn’t to eliminate the symptoms, but instead to change how we interpret those symptoms."

In other words, you can develop a new narrative where you tell yourself, “I’ll handle whatever happens" and come up with a plan to help reduce your fear and lower the intensity of your anxiety symptoms.

If you'd like to know more about the Anti-Anxiety Notebook, visit 

2021 Desert AIDS Walk reaches new milest …

Contact: Leighton Ginn
Public Relations Specialist
(760) 567-2983


November 2, 2021

2021 Desert AIDS Walk reaches new milestone, surpassing the $400,000 mark


PALM SPRINGS, CA –   The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk returned for its first in-person event since before the pandemic, and the community donated in record numbers with $400,786.24, which all goes to support DAP Health and the vital services it provides the community.

The previous record was $350,000, which was the event’s goal for this year.

“The community came together again and blew our previous record out of the water,” says Darrell L. Tucci, Chief Development & Strategy Officer at DAP Health. “To see the community come together at the very beginning of the program for the first time in 20 months was deeply moving. I had tears streaming down my face. It was really beautiful to see.”

It was DAP Health’s first in-person event since the 2019 Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards. The 2020 Desert AIDS Walk went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tucci said it’s a testament to the community, as well as the DAP Health teams – marketing, development and volunteer coordinators, who were “the backbone on the staff side leading the event.” With the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemics being felt economically in communities across the country, Tucci said he wasn’t sure how fundraising for the walk would turn out.

This year’s event had 594 registered walkers, 71 teams and 1,836 donors. The average gift was $112.94.

The top fundraiser this year was DAP Health Board Chair Patrick Jordan, who raised $15,100 to lead individual fundraisers and his PS Properties team raised $41,710 to lead all teams.

“My passion is making sure that people in our community lead healthy lives. So whether that's somebody living and managing themselves with HIV, whether that's somebody that needs behavioral health counseling, whether that's somebody that needs food assistance, whatever it might be,” Jordan said. “I think we all have a responsibility in my eyes to care of humankind and take care of one another. And so that is what drives my passion.”

Jordan also points out that telling donors that 100 percent of the funds they raised would go directly to DAP Health programs was an incentive as the event was underwritten by the sponsors. Tucci points out that the sponsors, such as Desert Care Network and Walgreen’s, helped generate over $100,000 this year, also a record.

Revivals stores has been donating 100% of their profits to DAP Health each year since it first opened in 1994. Director of Retail, Dane Koch joined leaders from each of the four Revivals stores for a special check presentation before the walk. “Our team of volunteers and employees came together this year to make an impact.  Over 6,500 customers donated an average of three dollars as they were checking out of our stores.  The collective impact of their generosity resulted in $20,000 raised at our stores for this year's walk. To me, it’s a great reminder that every person's effort matters when we come together with a shared purpose.”

The annual Desert AIDS Walk helps fund the vital work of DAP Health, previously Desert AIDS Project, an advocacy-based health care organization that provides service to more than 10,000 individuals.

“The fight to end HIV and address health inequities is far from over and we are in this together,” said C.J. Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness. “The funds raised through the Desert AIDS Walk this year is a major win for the community.”

This year marks 40 years of HIV with the first reported cases about what would become known as HIV and AIDS published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

DAP Health CEO and President David Brinkman says, “AIDS taught us a community response is the most effective response. It taught us that we cannot turn our backs when communities are in need and in fear, that we must remember our humanity and the gift of giving back and be there to help. And as we have learned through our recent human rights and health equity movements, equality cannot be experienced by one until it is experienced by all.”

About DAP Health

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, Calif., serving more than 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab services. 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 Health opened one of California’s first COVID clinics and hotlines to offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP Health also is working to address the 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 Health’s sexual health clinic offers STI testing and treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) testing. DAP Health 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 Health exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Visit to learn more.

DAP Health offering “Mind Over Mood” …

DAP Health offering “Mind Over Mood” group to help individuals battle Holiday blues


The Holidays are a time of joy, Black Friday deals, and endless hours of Hallmark Christmas movies.  

But they can also bring an unwelcome guest – depression, and anxiety.  

DAP Health is offering Mind Over Mood, a structured support group to help individuals change negative thinking patterns that often can lead to challenges such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, substance misuse, and relationship problems.  

The program begins November 4 and the group will meet every Thursday for 12 weeks at DAP Health. The sessions run from 2-4 p.m. and are free and open to the community.   

For more information, or to register, call (760) 323-2118, ext. 567. 

The holiday seasons can be a very difficult time for many people, but especially in the LGBT community, when family becomes such a major focus or in the holidays,” said Dr. Jill Gover, the Director of Behavioral health at DAP Health. “It can be a very distressing time. It was important to offer this group that provides a very specific tool, a psychological tool that can really help people change their negative thinking and really help them alleviate some of the depression and anxiety you might experience in holidays.” 

Gover said this year was particularly crucial because of the COVID pandemic, which left people more isolated and created more mental health issues for individuals.  

“That's one of the reasons why I thought it was so important to start this group this holiday season because we're coming out of almost a two-year period of extreme stress that is really unprecedented,” Gover said. “There's a pent-up demand to celebrate this holiday because so many people have had to put that on hold and, and so many families have been unable to come together because they weren't able to be geographically in the same place.  

“This year, as we move towards the new normal, we're starting to resume a lot of those activities that we had pre-pandemic. Because of that, there's a heightened intensity, a pent up demand for the best holiday season ever to make up for all the really crappy ones we had last year.” 

The program is also part of a new clinical instructor training program at DAP Health. One of the new interns, Chris Cassirer, will run the group. Gover said it allows Cassirer a chance to learn how to facilitate a group as well as hone his clinical skills.  

The service is available to the entire community.  

Gover also points out that the program is based on a cognitive-behavioral therapy model developed by Christine A. Padesky, a clinical psychologist who is also the co-founder of the Center for Cognitive Therapy in Huntington Beach and author of seven books.  

“It’s a wonderful book that I think everybody should learn because it really helps with daily living, and it will be particularly useful as we head into the holidays,” Gover said. “So many of us are going to feel that excess stress.”  

Over the summer, mental health took center stage in the sports world when top tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open because she wanted to prioritize her mental health.  

It created a much-needed discussion in the sports world, with other athletes chiming in on the lack of help or understanding about mental health.  

“Mental health matters, right?” Gover said. “It’s so important and it’s so important to publicize it. In the media, it’s so important in terms of how it tells the story. If we can eliminate the stigma associated with mental health services and allow people to really talk about their emotions, their feelings, their mental health issues, then we can intervene before they get so far upstream. That’s really my goal here at DAP Health. I really want people to come in before things get to a crisis point that they’re off the cliff.  

And that's really what this group is about. It's for the community.” 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

If you've been seeing more pink ribbons lately, it's because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an event that began in 1985. 

You've probably seen people wearing little pink ribbons from time-to-time and know that they symbolize the fight against breast cancer.

One of the most prominent people involved with that first event was former First Lady Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald R. Ford. Mrs. Ford was a survivor of breast cancer and was diagnosed while her husband was still in office. (The Fords enjoyed a very happy retirement in Rancho Mirage after leaving the White House and, in 1982, Mrs. Ford established the city's Betty Ford Center, which specializes in treatment programs for addiction to alcohol and other drugs.) 

Today, the ongoing goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to not only educate women about symptoms, but also to learn about early detection tests that allow you to take charge of your breast health. Aside from self examination—feeling the breasts for lumps—a routine screening mammogram is a quick and simple process, and you'll often receive results the same day, or within 24 hours. 

If you're wondering about other possible symptoms of breast cancer, the World Health Organization lists some things to look out for: Alteration in the size, shape, or appearance of a breast; dimpling, redness, pitting, or other alteration in the skin; a change in nipple appearance, or alteration in the skin surrounding the nipple; and abnormal nipple discharge. 

While many people put off preventive care visits to their doctors during the pandemic, now is not the time to skip an annual mammogram. "The past year has posed a challenge to just about everything and breast cancer prevention is no exception," says Dr. Shubha Kerkar, DAP Health's Director of Infectious Diseases. 

"For the past 30 years, the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) has supported women by helping them get access to the education, screening, and support they need," she adds. And echoing the motto of the NBCF, Dr. Kerkar says, "This is our moment to rise up and do even more. October is the month of raising awareness." 

Dr. Kerkar also notes that there are charitable organizations that can help women who are unable to afford mammography services. A couple of local resources you can contact are: Borrego Health, 855-436-1234; and the Department of Health Care Services' Every Woman Counts, 800-511-2300. 

If you're a cancer survivor, like Dr. Kerkar who survived breast cancer in 2015, she highly recommends a support group called Shay's Warriors: Life After Cancer that was initially founded to help women who had gone through breast or other reproductive cancers. "It is now helping women and men to have a healthy, inspiring, and safe space for survivors to thrive," says Dr. Kerkar. Their website,, also lists many local resources. 

In addition, you can visit the DAP Health website,, to learn about the many client wellness services we offer, such as behavioral health, yoga and meditation, nutritional counseling, group therapy, and more. 

Transgender Night of Empowerment Strengt …

Transgender Night of Empowerment Strengthened Community Bonds

By Leighton Ginn

The Transgender Night of Empowerment held Sept. 13 at Oscar’s in Downtown Palm Springs was a night defined by enlightening conversation and community connection.  

Organized with TransPower Project and Oscar’s Palm Springs,  the night featured three charismatic panelists who shared their stories of going from abandonment into empowerment by finding loving and supporting communities that accept them.

Jazzmun Nichcala Crayton said she hopes events like the Transgender Night of Empowerment will help facilitate discussions and education. 

Crayton, who says her pronoun is “gender fierce,” hopes that the conversations lead to greater acceptance. She says, “I’ve seen change with my own eyes,” 

Crayton was part of the three-person panel that discussed challenges faced by transgender individuals.

Jacob Rostovsky, the CEO and founder of the TransPower Project, said he was humiliated while he was in urgent care for an ear issue. Upon reading he was transgender, they began asking about his genitals.

“I was so shamed because that was all he could see of me,” Rostovsky said. “Many feel vulnerable because providers don’t see us.

“Aren’t they all supposed to do no harm?”  

Rostovsky left urgent care without treatment, resulting in a worsening ear infection. He canceled other appointments because he feared how he would be treated.  

But Rostovsky said his life has changed for the better. He’s engaged with plans to be married soon.

“When I was younger, I thought I would be dead before I was 15, 16. I never thought anyone in my entire life would love me in a romantic way. I never thought I would find love or be valued, especially as a gay man,” said Rostoveky, who shared the news of his engagement.  “I felt true love so I’m getting married. I continue to celebrate my authenticity as a Trans gay male every single day that I wake up and every single day I go to sleep because he’s there to remind me.”

Fernanda Quiroz, a patient at DAP Health, said when she came out, she was abandoned by her family, members who said they would stick by her through anything.

But thanks to DAP Health, and particularly moderator Michael Malfavon, she feels like she’s home when she goes into the clinic.

Explaining the importance of collaboration, Rostovsky said is grateful to DAP Health for partnering with TransPower Project on events that bring the transgender community together.

“Having community is immensely important,” Rostovsky said. “We’re a new organization and it means a lot to us when a big organization like DAP Health welcomes us with open arms.

The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk returns to Ruth Hardy Park!

Our community’s largest gathering of HIV advocates comes together on Saturday, October 30, 2021, to walk toward ending the HIV and AIDS epidemics in the Coachella Valley. The 2021 Desert AIDS Walk, presented by Desert Care Network, will be an in-person event beginning at Ruth Hardy Park and following a route through downtown Palm Springs. This family and pet-friendly event includes a Health and Wellness Festival presented by Walgreens. Register today at

Community Comes Together, Provides Inspi …

Community Comes Together, Provides Inspiration at 2021 Aging Positively – Reunion Project

By Leighton Ginn

When the top organizations in the area got together for the Aging Positively – Reunion Project Conference on September 19, it sent a powerful and inspiring message.

The event was  aimed at providing information and inspiration for those aging with HIV. The event showcased community leaders who provide services to improve the quality of life for those older adults living with HIV.

Attendee David Parry felt  the conference was uplifting after what he experienced in the early days of the crisis.

“I lost many, many friends, too many friends to count, in the late 80s and early 90s,” said Parry, a Rancho Mirage resident. “Now today, people aren’t just surviving with AIDS, but truly living full lives. It’s an amazing recovery story. … To have the emphasis on living full lives and the resources available to us to make that possible is really empowering.”

This year’s event was headlined by Andy Bell, the lead singer of the pop group “Erasure,” and Karl Schmid, co-creator of +Life Media and ABC7 Los Angeles contributor.  

Jeff Taylor, the executive director of the HIV+ and Aging Research Project in Palm Springs, interviewed Schmid. He said having both Schmid and Bell sent a positive message. When they came out as HIV positive, they didn’t suffer as bad a backlash as feared and were embraced.

But an even more powerful message was having eight local organizations come together to provide an event that attracted a record 274 registered guests. There were attendees from all over the country as well as Thailand.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how well the virtual format worked and how well people responded to it,” Taylor said. “It’s really great to see that group come together. We’ve been collaborating for about four years now and it just gets better and better each year. It’s a delight to work with these people.”

There was a wide array of topics covered, such as research updates, which featured DAP Health’s Research Coordinator Greg Jackson and caregiving. But the event went deeper with other topics such as meditation, an end-of-life doula, sustaining and making new friends later in life, and HIV in the media.

"It was an energizing experience for our team at DAP Health to collaborate alongside other local organizations committed to supporting community members living and aging with HIV. We were all grateful for the opportunity to connect around a shared vision for this event and for the leadership of its committee members," said Steven Henke, Director of Brand Marketing at DAP Health.

Bell spoke about his career in Erasure, which produced the pop hits “A Little Respect,” “Chains of Love,” and “Oh L’Amour.” Bell’s session, which ended the conference, had a memorable moment when Parry got on the line. Parry was an accountant for one of Erasure’s tours, and Bell remembered him as being a “hunk” and wearing bicycle shorts.

“I was shocked he even remembered my name. I was really touched, and a little embarrassed he referred to me as a hunk, ” said Parry, the Senior Director, Executive and Internal Communications for Blue Shield of California. 

“Whatever short shorts I had on at the time, I’m sure they were much longer than what he was wearing.”

Taylor said the committee, inspired by the success of the 2021 version of the conference, is already planning next year’s conference, which they hope can be in person. Even so, Taylor said he would like to see a hybrid conference to maintain the virtual element to extend their reach beyond the Coachella Valley. He likes the idea that the conference could be available to people in the Midwest and South, where they don’t have the kind of resources the Coachella Valley does.

“People reach out to me to see and ask, ‘How can we make it happen here?’” Taylor said. “We forget how fortunate we are here, so to make it available to people elsewhere who don’t have it, and make it a springboard to capacity building for them is really exciting.”

How is DAP Health caring for people living and aging with HIV? Dr. Tulika Singh, Director of Research, Associate-Chief Medical Officer, explains.

Help us continue to provide compassionate health care by registering now for the 2021 Desert AIDS Walk at

5 Reasons to Particpate in the 2021 Dese …

5 Reasons to Participate in the 2021 Desert AIDS Walk

From the home offices, here’s a look at why you will want to participate in the 2021 Desert AIDS Walk, a Palm Springs tradition since 1989.

1. YOU MIGHT SEE SOME FAMOUS FACES: The Desert AIDS Walk brings together the community, including celebrities and leading businesses. At the very first Desert AIDS Walk in 1989, screen legend Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne were there to add their celebrity and support. “Let’s walk, run, do whatever we can to eradicate AIDS,” Douglas said during his opening remarks in 1989. Joining the post-walk event was former President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford. Other former participants included former Palm Springs mayor and singer Sonny Bono.

2. GREAT FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY (INCLUDING YOUR FUR-BABIES): This year’s event will include the Health and Wellness Fair, sponsored by Walgreen’s. The fair offers opportunities for participants to restore their mind, body and spirit. There will also be activities for children. Congressman Raul Ruiz brought his two young children to the 2016 Desert AIDS Walk for another reason. “We started them young, we start them early to believe in equality, to believe in social justice, to help us eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS. To encourage our friends and other families to get tested,” Ruiz said from the stage. “This is not something we go halfway; we go all the way in order to protect our community members and our loved ones.”

Pets are welcome to walk the course that begins at Ruth Hardy Park and take participants around some of the legendary landmarks around Palm Springs.

3. CELEBRATING LIFE: Many who participate will do so to honor a loved one lost to HIV and AIDS. “I walk because other people can’t. I also walk to support all the programs and services that (DAP Health) provides to its clients. It’s unparalleled and unmatched in the country,” said board member Patrick Jordan in a 2015 video. “Come get inspired.”

4. REUNITED AND IT WILL FEEL SO GOOD: It is a chance for our community to get together, safely, to celebrate and walk together again in person. Due to the COVID pandemic, last year’s walk was a virtual one. If people are vaccinated, they can be together again to celebrate at one of the most beloved events in Palm Springs. Desert AIDS Walk also helps kick off Pride Week!

5. THE FIGHT TO END HIV ISNT OVER: When the Desert AIDS Walk began in 1989, a positive diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, DAP Health treats many long-term survivors who led full and healthy lives.

Join more than 2,000 local humanitarians and come together to end the HIV epidemic, expand healthcare access, and remember those friends and family members who we lost because of AIDS. Walker Registration is now available online at

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.”