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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.” 

 

 

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

Vaccines protect millions from disease, …

New York City's Municipal Lodging House vaccinates homeless tenants in 1910. On the wall is a poster stating the rules of the shelter.
New York City's Municipal Lodging House vaccinates homeless tenants in 1910. On the wall is a poster stating the rules of the shelter.

Vaccines protect millions from disease, suffering, death

By Robert Hopwood

Smallpox is almost always mentioned when people talk about the benefits humanity has achieved from vaccines.

There is a good reason for that.

The smallpox vaccine, developed by Britain’s Dr. Edward Jenner in 1798, was the first one created to inoculate people against an infections disease.

Smallpox was awful. It was a scourge that stalked humanity across the globe for at least 3,000 years, spreading from India or Africa to Europe and then to the Americas.

Up to 30% of those who contracted smallpox died of the disease, according to the World Health Organization. Just like with COVID-19, many of those who survived suffered from lifelong complications. And no cure or treatments existed.

In the 1950s, about 50 million people across the globe contracted smallpox. By 1967, it threatened 60% of the world’s population, killed every fourth victim, scarred or blinded most survivors, and eluded any form of treatment, according to the WHO.

In the 1970s, the WHO redoubled its efforts to eradicate the disease. By the end of the decade, a disease that at one time killed every 10th child in France was wiped out, according to the WHO. Since 1980, no one has contracted smallpox.

“Many people consider smallpox eradication to be the biggest achievement in international public health,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Successful vaccine strategies have largely eradicated some of Earth’s other deadly infections, including polio and measles, says Dr. Shubha Kerkar, Director of Infectious Diseases at DAP Health.

Today we have vaccines against many diseases, as every school-age child knows. They protect against polio, chickenpox, shingles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, COVID-19, and many more diseases.

Thanks to the incredible advances in health science since Jenner gave “lymph fluid” obtained from a milkmaid who had cowpox to James Phipps, doctors across the planet can protect scores of people against untold suffering and death.

Many vaccines contain small parts of the germ. Those bits of the germ are weakened or killed during the manufacture of the vaccine and don’t make people sick, says Dr. Tulika Singh, Director of Research and Associate-Chief Medical Officer at DAP Health.

When the vaccine is administered, the small bits of germ stimulate our immune system to create antibodies, Singh says.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are a little different. They use a novel platform using “messenger” RNA to create vaccines (mRNA), Kerkar says. 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 is kept, Kerkar says. 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, she says.

“Vaccination prepares the human immune system to combat specific infections,” Kerkar says.

Once the body has created antibodies to a specific disease, it’s ready to fight a real infection, says Singh.

“Vaccines prevent disease; they don’t treat disease or cure disease,” Singh says. “They prevent your body from experiencing a real infection.”

Contrary to what some people may say on social media or whisper at dinner parties, vaccines are not dangerous, Singh says.

An old myth about vaccines is that they cause autism. That false belief started when people read articles by a bad researcher, says Singh. Multiple studies have been done that clearly show that vaccines do not cause autism.

Sometimes people may develop a reaction shortly after getting a vaccination, Singh says. That happens when their bodies react to the vaccine and begin creating antibodies.

“That is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing,” Singh says.

A myth about the COVID-19 vaccine is that it was rushed and therefore unsafe. That’s not true, Singh says.

It can take nearly a decade for a vaccine to get approved by the FDA, Singh says. But the COVID-19 vaccine took less than a year to develop. Singh says the vaccine was fast-tracked because the planet was in the grip of a pandemic, but it did go through rigorous study.

When a vaccine gets an emergency use authorization, the FDA still requires and studies its safety data, Singh says. Once they realized the COVID-19 vaccines in use today were safe, they OK’d them.

“The only reason many people are alive now is because the FDA approved the vaccine so quickly after looking at safety data,” Singh says.

Conversations about HIV and Aging Bridge …

Conversations about HIV and Aging: Bridgette

Q: How has living with HIV changed your perspective on aging? 

A: In a way, it brings more worries (effects on the body and brain function), but at the same time it's freeing. It's a reminder that life will happen and come at you fast no matter what you do.  

Q: What does community mean to you? Where do you find your 'tribe' to support your journey? 

A: Community is knowing no matter how different ourexperiences, we are connected in fundamental ways and that is what matters. I find my "folks" everywhere. Surprisingly, a lot of them I find online.  

Q: What's the best advice you've been given? 

A: How your life FEELS is more important than how it looks. 

Q: What have you learned about yourself living with HIV that your younger self would be surprised by?  

A: I've learned WHERE you are and what you have is not WHO you are.  

Q: What song do you play when you need to motivate yourself?  

A: "Keep Pressing On" by Brian Courtney Wilson 

Q: What challenges have you faced aging with HIV? 

A: Medication adherence and side effects have plagued me. Depression has been somewhat magnified.  

Q: What service or support group has made the biggest positive impact on your health and wellness?  

A: A combination of the online women's support group The Well Project and a private FB group I am in.  

Q: What do you do to take care of your mental health?  

A: I remind myself trouble doesn't always last and I engage in things I love. Hobbies are crucial! 

Q: What do you want people reading this to know about aging with HIV?

A: I have a full life behind my three-letter acronym, and fear is unjustified in the face of knowledge.  

Q: What's your goal for the future? What do you hope to be doing in the next 5-10 years personally or career-wise? 

A: I've been considering returning to school for a psychology degree, and I plan to continue to serve my communities where they intersect and overlap.  

Q: What's your pro-tip for someone newly diagnosed with HIV?  

A: HIV is a viral process. You are a human. They are different things. The virus can be controlled. Live your life.   

Q: What book or movie inspired you the most?  

A: Honestly, it depends on my mood. Right now, it is a book of poetry called "Salt" by Nayyirah Waheed. 

Q: What's your personal mantra? 

A: When you cannot find the light, be the light.  

C.J. Tobe discusses how DAP Health is wo …

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

By Robert Hopwood, DAP Health

Across the nation, HIV cases have decreased in white men, but they 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, says C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness Services at DAP Health.

Locally, since 2019, about 25% of new HIV cases have been Latino men under the age of 40, according to DAP Health data.

In light of Palm Springs' demographics, the fact that a quarter of new HIV cases are Latino men under the age of 40 is a lot, Tobe says.

Tobe says those numbers also result from DAP Health's work of engaging that community and ensuring they have access to education and testing specifically the new HIV self testing program where over 30% of self testers have been latino men.

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.

"Latino men are not just going to walk into our doors until it's too late, Tobe says.

Social determinants of health like poverty are driving new HIV infections in the east valley, Tobe says.

More: C.J. Tobe: Success of DAP Health’s mobile clinic occurs every time it is in the community

Related: C.J. Tobe

Related: DAP Health’s Commitment to Health Equity

DAP Health can correlate HIV rates with poverty, he says. The majority of Latino men under 40 who are newly diagnosed with HIV live below 200% of the federal poverty level. For a single person, that is $25,760.

Poverty is a significant driver of everything to do with HIV, Tobe says. People with minimal or no income are not going to prioritize routine HIV testing or take preventative medication like PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), or consistently use condoms.

"It also leads to people having survival sex. Sex for shelter, sex for food, or having sex to make money, to be able to afford those things they need, which also puts them at risk for HIV," Tobe says.

Another contributing factor to HIV infections is cultural, Tobe says. Sex is not something people talk about openly. Some men may still be in the closet, or they could be on the "down low” or “discreet.” It is challenging for men who have not accepted their fluid sexuality to acknowledge their sexual health should be a priority such as getting tested for HIV and STDS and take PrEP and consistently use condoms. 

Tobe says DAP Health is doing many things to reach this population, including:

  • Sending free self HIV test kits to anyone who requests one;
  • Advertising on bus shelters across the valley;
  • Confidentially providing people with education and community resources;
  • Setting up health tables in areas with Latino populations;
  • Providing support to Riverside County and their substance use and mental health departments;
  • Working with four recovery centers in the east valley;
  • Attending area events like The Flying Doctors, El Grito Festival, East Coachella Valley Pride, and the Indio Open Air Market;
  • California Care Force;
  • Working with the John J. Benoit Detention Center in Indio, the re-entry program, and the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission; and
  • Attending Latin Nights at Coachella Valley clubs.

‘It’s a very important element o …

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

By Robert Hopwood, DAP Health

Pronouns affirm the humanity of an individual and help reduce stigma and obstacles to health care. In short, they matter.

They create a safe space for patients.

"They are a simple and basic topic, but they have a big impact on many of our patients," says Anthony Velasco, Senior Nurse Practitioner Specialist at DAP Health.

Velasco provides comprehensive gender-affirming care at DAP Health, and he advocates for creating better access to safe and gender-affirming spaces for all. He also co-chairs DAP Health's Transgender Health Program.

One of the most important steps to creating a welcoming environment for transgender and gender-diverse people is to address patients using their preferred names and pronouns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Velasco says that using the wrong pronoun to refer to someone is almost like calling somebody by a different name than the name they use.

A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun. For example, the words "it" or "that" are pronouns. Personal pronouns — he, her, they, etc. — are words that refer to a person.

They are a simple way of validating a person's gender identity, creating safe spaces for patients.

Sex is binary and assigned to a person at birth. Gender, on the other hand, is a social construct and is not necessarily the same as the person's sex that was assigned at birth. It isn't binary.

"When I introduce myself and introduce my pronouns to someone, it creates a signal for that particular individual that it is safe for them to discuss their gender identity with me and any gender-affirming needs they may have, especially during our visit," Velasco says.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey — the largest survey ever devoted to the lives and experiences of trans people — surveyed nearly 28,000 people about discrimination, stigma, and health disparities among transgender and gender-diverse people.

They found that 33% of respondents reported having at least one stigma-related experience when they tried to access healthcare. Velasco says that the experience and expression of stigma includes verbal abuse, assault, or even refusal of care.

More: Transgender Care at DAP Is Here For You 

On YouTube: BORN TO BE: Panel discussion and Q&A

In the same study, they found that a significant number of transgender and gender-diverse adults avoided accessing health care services because of the stigma related to discrimination.

Velasco says that when somebody does not acknowledge their gender identity — by misgendering them or deadnaming them — that could be perceived as a form of discrimination.

In another recent study, Velasco mentioned, more than 90 percent of transgender and gender-diverse people in the Inland Empire had health insurance. But most of them didn't access care because they couldn't find a competent provider in providing gender-affirming care.

"One of those incompetencies or lack of knowledge and training would be not validating people, not using correct pronouns, not being aware of gender-affirming issues that transgender and gender diverse people need," Velasco says.

By doing simple, concrete things like making sure we have ways to identify people's pronouns and their chosen names, DAP Health can prevent those barriers to care, Velasco says.

"By us not using and acknowledging their gender identity, by us not using their chosen name — their pronouns — this could potentially limit their access to care," Velasco says.

He says other ways — beyond the use of pronouns — clinicians can let trans people know they provide affirming care is by:

  • Using gender-affirming and inclusive forms;
  • Using gender-affirming electronic medical records;
  • Making sure staff and clinicians are well-trained in how to provide gender-affirming care;
  • Providing gender-affirming hormone therapy;
  • Using trauma informed care;
  • Being aware of all the other things that involve gender affirmation for clients; and
  • Creating programs and interventions informed by the lived experienced of transgender and gender-diverse people. We do this by collaborating with the transgender and gender-diverse community in amplifying their voices to meet their health and social needs.

DAP Health works to create safe spaces for transgender people across the organization. Two simple ways they do that is by putting employees' pronouns in email signatures and on name tags.

"It's a simple but very important element of creating safe spaces for people of all sexes and gender identities in a very respectful manner," says Velasco.

Taking the time to use a person's preferred pronoun doesn't have to be just in a health care setting.

"In our daily language we use pronouns," Velasco says. "We have conversations with everybody. And if we don't respect and honor the names or pronouns they use, it's a way of disrespecting them."

Aging Positively — Reunion Project 202 …

HIV and Aging Conference Header Image

Contact: Steven Henke                                 
Director of Brand Marketing 
(612) 310-3047 
shenke@daphealth.org 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

August 5 2021  

Local Organizations Collaborate on HIV & Aging Conference  

Aging Positively — Reunion Project Set September 18, 2021  

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 on Sept. 18, 2021. The conference will feature an HIV research panel of top experts discussing HIV and aging issues in our community.   

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.    

The virtual conference is free to attendees and open to the public. Presented by Eisenhower Health, this year's event is the result of a unique collaboration among local service providers and organizations focused on improving the shared experience of older adults living with HIV.  

People with HIV are living longer lives, thanks to advancements in scientific research and medical treatments; today, about half of HIV positive individuals in the U.S. are age 50 and above. Aging persons living with HIV have experienced tremendous loss, stigma, and discrimination throughout their lifetime and within the healthcare system.  In comparison to similar HIV-negative populations, individuals aging with HIV may experience an early onset of aging complications such as neurocognitive decline, impaired physical function, frailty, and falls.    

Karl Schmid, the entertainment reporter for ABC7 LA will speak on HIV and the media. The ABC reporter, who came out as HIV Positive in 2018, uses his multimedia platform, +Life, to educate and combat HIV stigma.  

At ABC7, Karl has been a regular contributor since 2013, joining the team as a correspondent and producer on the then-weekly and syndicated "On The Red Carpet." 

A passionate activist in the fight against HIV stigma, Schmid launched +Life (www.pluslifemedia.com) in 2019 online to help foster a new conversation around what it means for people living with HIV and to tackle the stigma still associated with the virus. +Life is also part of Localish TV on the newly launched Localish TV network. 

"HIV is not killing people but stigma is, and this is what needs to change," Schmid said in a statement. "We need to talk more about HIV and its advancements, about what U=U means, and we should not be stigmatized by society. 

"We need to have more information on mainstream media about how you contract HIV, prevention and treatments available so that people stop stigmatizing those that are positive and realize that anyone can have HIV and live a completely normal and healthy life."  

Since coming out as HIV-positive, Schmid has used his platform to educate and fight bias.  

Keynote speaker Andy Bell of Erasure fame will share his personal story. Bell is a founding member of Erasure.  Formed in 1985, when former Depeche Mode and Yazoo member Clarke advertised for a new singer. The duo quickly became enormously successful in the U.K., U.S., and several 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 synthpop bands selling more than 25 million records. In 2019, Erasure released their 18th studio album, The Neon. 

Bell has become an icon within the LGBTQ+ community for his honesty, compassion and support. Among his support of various LGBTQ+ causes, Bell has served as an ambassador for New York’s Hetrick-Martin Institute, and he is currently a patron of the Cambridge, England-based charity Diverse and of Above The Stag, London’s only LGBTQ+ theater. 

Topics and speakers:  

  •  Keynote speaker: Andy Bell from Erasure 
  • “Honoring Our Experience” with Gregg Cassin 
  • “KeeLee Meditation” with Dr. Daniel Lee, from the University of California, San Diego's Owen Clinic 
  • “HIV & The Media”: Karl Schmid is the entertainment reporter for ABC7 LA. He recently revealed his HIV status and has been an advocate for U=U as well as breaking down HIV stigma. 
  • HIV research update panel: 
    • Borrego Health: Valerio Iovino, i-Care 
    • DAP Health: Dr. Tulika Singh 
    • Eisenhower Health: Dr. Ken Lichtenstein 
    • Palmtree: Dr. Carlos Martinez 
    • HIV+ Aging Research Project-Palm Springs (HARP-PS): Jeff Taylor  
    • Caregiving with Perry Wiggins from The Center, end-of-life doula Alex Snell, and Richard Bass from PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors)
    •  “Let’s Kick ASS”: Brian DeVries speaks about sustaining and making new friendships late in life 

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  

Collaborating Organizations:  

ANAC   

The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) is the leading health care organization responding to HIV/AIDS. Since its founding in 1987, ANAC has been meeting the needs of nurses and other healthcare professionals in HIV/AIDS care, research, prevention, and policy.  

 ANAC aims to promote the health and welfare of people affected by HIV/AIDS by:  

  • Creating an effective, engaged network of nurses in AIDS care. 
  • Studying, researching and exchanging information, experiences and ideas leading to improved care and prevention. 
  • Providing leadership to the nursing community in matters related to HIV/AIDS infection and its co-morbidities. 
  • Advocating for effective public policies and quality care for people living with HIV. 
  • Promoting social awareness concerning issues related to HIV/AIDS. 

Borrego Health   

Borrego Health provides high-quality, comprehensive, compassionate primary health care to the people in our communities, regardless of their ability to pay. They serve these communities and adjoining regions with respect, dignity, and cultural sensitivity as a medical home and safety net for essential health care and social services. Borrego Health is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a Federal Tort Claims Act Deemed (FTCA) facility.  

DAP Health   

At DAP Health, no one wonders if they belong — they just feel it. People can rely on culturally competent and stigma-free care at DAP Health.    

DAP Health offers medical and mental healthcare tailored to patients and clients by clinicians who listen to them. DAP Health has been meeting the diverse needs or its community since 1984, and it offers culturally competent care with no stigma about a person’s race, being LGBTQ+, or living with HIV. By actively listening, we can offer people care and services that meet their unique needs.     

  • Sexual wellness — DAP Health’s Orange Clinic offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C testing.
  •  Thriving with HIV and ending the epidemic — DAP Health helps patients living with HIV thrive by staying healthy, undetectable and untransmittable to others. They become part of DAP Health's family beginning with testing, linkage into care, and then being enrolled in medical and mental healthcare, dentistry, social services, and prescription access. 
  • Mental health services — DAP Health offers individual and group therapy and has a substance abuse program that emphasizes recovery and relapse prevention. Mental health is health — no stigma, no shame. It just takes seeing a person truly where he/she/they are in their personal journey. 
  • Ongoing primary care — Join more than 9,700 patients who enjoy culturally competent care from clinicians and care teams who become like family. DAP Health's team works with patients to coordinate their care and ensure they have everything they need to stay healthy.  

Eisenhower Health  

Eisenhower HIV Clinic: Recognizing the complex health care needs of the LGBTQ patient population, Eisenhower Medical Center offers a comprehensive range of clinical, research and education resources — starting with a team of dedicated primary care doctors who have exceptional experience and expertise.  

Eisenhower HIV Clinic Primary Care Services: Providing state-of-the-art care for HIV patients requires knowledge of the latest treatments and best practices in the detection and treatment of HIV. Eisenhower's HIV Primary Care program is focused on the overall health of each patient, including:  

  • Appropriate utilization of advances in HIV care to sustain the best possible quality of life, including appropriate STD and cancer screening as well as healthy aging  
  • Best practices to prevent the spread of HIV  
  •  Compassionate access to new medicines for highly drug-resistant patients  
  • Our team includes HIV primary care doctors Board Certified in Internal Medicine or Family Medicine, with an additional certification as an HIV specialist with the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM).  
  • Eisenhower Health is proud to collaborate with many nonprofit organizations here in the Coachella Valley providing HIV and related healthcare services, through partnership connectivity of services, referrals, and education.  

HARP-PS   

The HIV+ Aging Research Project-Palm Springs is a grassroots community non-profit that conducts research and provides education to improve the quality of life for long-term HIV survivors in the Coachella Valley. They collaborate with academic partners throughout Southern California and nationally to conduct socio-behavioral research on issues like resiliency and COVID-19 affecting HIV survivors. They hold monthly provider events to provide education on HIV Treatment issues, and they held monthly COVID Rounds during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also provide the monthly Positive Life HIV education series with topics and speakers tailored to the unique needs of their HIV survivor community. They created the annual Reunion Project daylong regional seminar to bring together the HIV and aging community in Southern California. Last year they combined forces with DAP Health and other community partners on the Aging Positively-Reunion Project event, which is held each year on or around HIV and Aging Awareness Day on September 18.    

Jewish Family Service of the Desert 

Since its inception as part of the Jewish Federation of Palm Springs and Desert Area in 1982, JFS has grown—not just in size, but in its ability to serve the people of the Coachella Valley. Beginning as a small group of volunteers who checked in on seniors and disabled people who lived alone, JFS Desert has evolved into an organization of professionals and volunteers that provide a broad range of support and services to thousands of Coachella Valley residents each year.  

JFS Desert’s experienced case managers can assist in exploring potential resources. They will assess clients’ eligibility for services and programs and can help facilitate the application process to obtain benefits and support. JFS case managers are a resource for the Coachella Valley, providing emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness. JFS also works with local and county organizations to advocate for the rights of seniors in the valley. The JFS case management team takes a holistic service approach, collaborating with internal departments to ensure clients’ needs are addressed. We are dedicated to making sure that mental health issues and affordable housing stay front and center for our valley citizens.   

Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs 

Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs is an inclusive social group seeking to reduce the stresses of AIDS Survivor Syndrome. They welcome members regardless of HIV status, race, gender, age, or sexuality, believing that the individual is the best judge of the impact of HIV on their life. LKAPS organizes social functions providing opportunities to develop friendships and community.  

They support education and advocacy to raise awareness of AIDS Survivor Syndrome, long-term survivors, and the challenges they face.  

People feel better when engaged in social activity. LKAPS helps long-term survivors overcome isolation by creating social opportunities. From their popular monthly potlucks, twice-monthly coffee socials, bowling team, and movie nights, to now-established annual events such as June 5's Long-term Survivors Day reception and the Thanksgiving Day feast, LKAPS benefits its members through engagement with their local community of HIV survivors.  

PALS  

PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) is a volunteer-led community initiative based in Palm Springs that helps LGBTQ+ adults and friends plan ahead before a health or other life-altering situation arises.   

Having a plan in place mitigates stress and anxiety, ensures that LGBTQ+ adults are in control of their future care and legacy, and relieves the burden on family and friends.  

The Center   

At The Center, they like to say they create vibrant community by helping LGBTQ+ people along their way, wherever they might be in life’s journey. Even better, The Center likes to live it, breathe it, and do it. If someone is looking to meet new friends, get resources, or enrich their life and their place in community, they have come to the right place.  

Based in the Coachella Valley, The Center serves people of all ages, totaling more than 70,000 visits annually. How do they attract so many people? They do it with meaningful, relevant and mission-focused programming that addresses three strategic initiatives:  

  •   Ending isolation and loneliness  
  •   Connecting people to resources and community  
  •   Enriching individual and collective experiences 

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 www.daphealth.org to learn more.     

 

Five minutes with Dr. Tulika Singh

Five minutes with Dr. Tulika Singh

By Robert Hopwood

Dr. Tulika Singh is the director of research at DAP Health. She is a board-certified HIV specialist, infectious disease and internal medicine physician who has been working in HIV care since 2009.

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. Her sister moved to Canada, but her mother still lives in India.

Before joining DAP Health, Singh completed an infectious disease fellowship in Wisconsin. She then worked at a couple of Michigan hospitals as a primary care, infectious disease specialist and an HIV specialist.

Since moving to California, Singh has settled into the Palm Springs lifestyle and has made the desert her home. People may be surprised to learn that Singh found her home on HGTV’s “House Hunters” show after moving to the Coachella Valley.

Learn more about one of the members of DAP Health’s care team.

Question: How did you get into HIV research?

Answer: I love doing research. That’s my newest passion. During my infectious disease fellowship from 2009 to 2011, I was awarded a prestigious award for my research. I then waited until I could do HIV-related research here at DAP Health.

Q. What did you want to do when you were young?

I wanted to be a dermatologist. But I started to see people with infections get better with the right antimicrobials and go on to live healthy lives. That’s when my passion shifted toward infectious diseases.

Q: Yoga is an integral part of your life. When did you start practicing it?

A: I started doing yoga in India when I was a toddler. Every morning I would do yoga with my father and sister before going to school. I continue to practice it for flexibility, peace of mind and its overall health benefits.

Q: You travel a lot. Where are your favorite places to visit?

A: I love traveling. I go to Mexico a lot, almost every three to four months. I have a timeshare there too, in Cabo. I also like vacationing in Hawaii. In summer I visit my sister in Toronto.

Q: How do you maintain an active lifestyle while traveling?

A: I used to travel quite a bit before COVID-19 happened. I was staying at hotels sometimes where there were no gyms or swimming pools. But I continued my lifestyle. I did yoga in my hotel room in the morning or went hiking or completed a seven-minute quick workout on my phone. I got my exercise out of the way, took a shower and was ready to start my day.

DAP Health Works to Stop COVID-19 Pandem …

Contact: Steven Henke                               
Director of Brand Marketing
(612) 310-3047
shenke@daphealth.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 30, 2021

DAP Health Works to Stop COVID-19 Pandemic 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 today that it will require its 229 employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. David Morris, DAP Health chief medical officer, explains, “universal mask wearing is not sufficient to prevent transmission of the Delta variant, which is more transmissible and causes more severe disease. COVID-19 vaccinations are the most effective means of preventing disease transmission.”

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 and avoid the return of restrictive public health measures.

Morris explains, “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. The health and safety of individuals, families, and the Coachella Valley depend on it.”

 “We are proud 95% of our employees have already been vaccinated. DAP Health team members made an ethical commitment to ensure the health and well-being of our patients, colleagues and community. This is essential to protect those who are vulnerable, including the immunocompromised,” says David Brinkman, CEO of DAP Health. “As members of the health care community, we need to have the courage of our convictions.” 

“Ending epidemics, whether HIV or COVID-19, is the charge of DAP Health. In mid-June, California had about 900 COVID cases severe enough to require hospitalization versus nearly 3,000 now. It is critical the entire health care workforce gets vaccinated against COVID to ensure patient safety,” Morris says. “With nearly 4 billion doses administered worldwide, we know the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness and death. Vaccinations reduce the spread of COVID and the harmful toll this virus is taking within the health care workforce and those we serve.”

“As specialists in HIV and LGBTQ+ care, DAP Health recognizes the historical mistrust of health care institutions. DAP Health is committed to addressing team members’ concerns, engage with marginalized populations, and work with trusted messengers to improve vaccine acceptance,” Brinkman says.

DAP Health recognizes some workers may not receive the vaccine because of medical or religious reasons. They will be exempt from this mandate, will wear N95 masks, and be tested weekly for COVID-19. 

About DAP Health

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, serving more than 10,000 patients. The health center offers 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-19 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 the health center 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 daphealth.org to learn more.

DAP Health marks World Hepatitis Day wit …

DAP Health marks World Hepatitis Day with hepatitis C forum

By Robert Hopwood, DAP Health

World Hepatitis Day 2021 on Wednesday, July 28, was an opportunity for health care providers, activists, patients and their loved ones to increase awareness of a disease that kills more than one million people a year.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer, according to the World Health Organization. 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.

Health officials have set the goal of eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, according to the WHO. The theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day underscores the urgency to eradicate the disease, “Hepatitis Can’t Wait.”

More: Hepatitis Care at DAP Health

DAP Health sponsored our third hepatitis C forum Wednesday for Coachella Valley recovery centers and partners. Speakers included C.J. Tobe, director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness Services at DAP Health; Jose De La Cruz, DAP Community Health educator; Dr. Shubha Kerkar, director of Infectious Diseases at DAP Health; Guillermo Ramos, Community Health Early Intervention manager at DAP Health; Andy Ansell, PrEP program manager at DAP Health; Michael Smith from the Ranch Recovery Center; and Liz Chavez Hacienda Valdez from the Ranch Recovery Center.

For hepatitis C resources, testing and care, contact DAP Health at (760) 323-2118.

Attendees at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Attendees at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
C.J. Tobe speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
C.J. Tobe 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.
Dr. Shubha Kerkar speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
From left, Jose De La Cruz, Dr. Shubha Kerkar and an attendee pose together for a photo at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
From left, Jose De La Cruz, Dr. Shubha Kerkar and an attendee pose together for a photo at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Andy Ansell speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
Andy Ansell speaks at DAP Health's hepatitis C forum on July 28, 2021.
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