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

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

DAP Health rolls out harm reduction prog …

DAP Health rolls out harm reduction program to provide care for people living with addiction 

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

lginn@daphealth.org.    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

Program approved Jan. 10, 2022 by the California Department of Public Health 

This Spring, DAP Health will unveil its harm reduction program that will have two components. First, Overdose prevention and secondly a Syringe Services Program (SSP) that will include health services and behavioral health support to combat the rise in preventable overdoses and the increase in new HIV cases.  

The multi-layered program will focus on education for the community, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, distribution and collection of syringes and referrals to support folks through their addiction journey.  

Additional services to be provided: Naloxone/Narcan to reverse overdose and prevent death, and Fentanyl test strips for testing drugs before use to decrease likelihood of overdose.  

In the latest preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100,000 people in the U.S. died from overdoses during the 12-month period from April 2020 through April 2021. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm) 

In Riverside County, there has been an 800 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths since 2016, according to Rivco.org.  (https://www.rivco.org/news/riverside-county-committee-combat-fentanyl-abuse).  

Palm Springs has an overdose death rate 300 percent higher than the state average.  

Palm Springs Police Department Chief Andy Mills was able to review the harm reduction program and was impressed with how complete it is.  

“It’s important to remember the dynamics that go into a program like this,” Mills says. “That’s what excites me. Not only is DAP Health looking at helping people, but genuinely helping people so they are not destructive to themselves or our community.” 

DAP Health is only the second state certified Syringe Services Program (SSP) in Riverside County, which is the 10th most populated county in the United States.  

Because of the rising numbers, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Bacerra says the federal government supports harm reduction, which includes direct support and care to people who actively struggle with substance misuse.  

“DAP Health will begin deepening our relationship with people living with addiction by adding a harm reduction approach to our first-aid kit of solutions,” says C.J. Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness. “We will do this without stigma or judgment because you cannot treat someone who does not trust you. Harm reduction is an important tactic in DAP Health’s ongoing work to end the HIV epidemic.  Work that begins with meeting folks where they are.” 

Education  

  • Overdose prevention  
  • Safer injecting  
  • Risk reduction counseling  
  • Education to community partners  

Testing  

  • Free HIV/HCV testing  
  • Fentanyl strips for testing drugs before use to decrease likelihood of overdose  

Equipment  

  • Naloxone/Narcan to reverse overdose and prevent death  
  • Phone number and email to DAP Health for the community to report used syringes that need to be picked up and disposed of, or to request education related to harm reduction strategies at HarmReduction@DAPHealth.org or 760 992-0453. 
  • New syringes and intake/dispose of used syringes  
  • New injecting supplies  
  • Safer sex kits  
  • Safer smoking kits   

Referrals To 

  • Substance use counselors  
  • Outpatient Drug Free program DAP Health 
  • Local recovery and treatment centers  
  • DAP Health’s peer support specialist  
  • Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) for anyone with HIV and/or Hepatitis C for treatment  
  • Insurance enrollment and connection to health care and other social support services  
  • DAP Health’s Sexual Wellness Clinic (Orange Clinic) for STI testing and/or Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)  
  • Food and housing    

 

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 health care, 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.  

New DAP Health Sexual Wellness clinic op …

DAP Health expands Sexual Wellness in Indio, CA opening new clinic opening June 2022 and MISTR partnership expand the reach of health care services  

DAP Health made two significant moves to expand free testing and treatment to the East Valley by signing a lease to a new facility in Indio and partnering with MISTR to provide virtual PrEP services statewide.  

On Nov. 29, DAP Health signed a lease for a building in Indio to open a sexual wellness clinic.  The organization hopes to open the new space by June 2022.  

Free services will include STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) testing and treatment (gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis), HIV prevention (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP; post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C testing.  

If anyone tests positive for HIV, the sexual wellness clinic DAP Health will provide that person with rapid start medication and linkage to care, an essential step in reducing new HIV infections and improving the health outcomes of the person living with HIV. While the cost of ongoing HIV treatment is not part of the free services, DAP Health offers financial assistance.  

In 2019, 25% of all HIV-positive test results at DAP Health were Hispanic men. “Many folks were driving from the East Valley to Palm Springs to utilize DAP Health’s sexual wellness services. We noticed not only a high volume of patients but most of those patients were already having symptoms of an STI or testing positive for HIV,” says C.J. Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness at DAP Health. Tobe believes free testing and treatment, with the convenience of not having to drive a great distance, will encourage more people to get tested.   

DAP Health is changing the system to meet the person. Since eliminating the cost barriers in its Orange Clinic that houses its sexual wellness services in July 2021, DAP Health has seen ongoing STI increases while HIV has remained the same, according to Tobe.   

DAP Health knew access to these services would be vital while social activities increased.    

In the first four months:    

  • The Orange Clinic saw over 2,000 patients.   
  • On average, DAP Health is seeing 170 more patients per month than when patients were being charged for services.    
  • The clinic started the same number of people on PrEP during the four months than they did in the prior 12 months.    
  • There were over 50 appointments for rapid start to ensure people newly diagnosed with HIV, or returning to care, have access to HIV medications within 7 days.    

“We are proactively protecting the community’s health,” Tobe said. “Eliminating the cost barrier has proven to increase access to folks in our community for PrEP and STI services.”   

“One of those barriers is cost. DAP Health learned many people testing positive for STIs and HIV had limited incomes. For them, the prior $25 fee for STI testing and PrEP was an impediment to care. DAP Health decided to remove that cost barrier to improve health equity.”  

In addition to the new Indio site, DAP Health now offers PrEP services virtually through MISTR, a discrete online service that provides access to PrEP, the once-daily pill regimen that prevents HIV. With its secure online platform, MISTR can determine if an individual is a candidate for PrEP and makes PrEP completely free. Moreover, MISTR manages all paperwork and back and forth with insurance companies and the various patient assistance programs, creating a seamless experience for the end-user.   

With the new clinic and the partnership with MISTR, DAP Health looks to make its services available to more people.  

DAP Health continues to make sexual wellness a priority by providing more people with more access to health services. It also continues to expand its ability to treat more people.   

"We welcome all people, period. And now we are eliminating more barriers to access sexual wellness services," Tobe said. “We are changing the system to meet the person. We continue to do this; First by eliminating the cost barrier and now opening a free sexual wellness clinic to people most impacted by HIV/STIs. That is health equity.”  

For more information, visit https://mistr.com/dap/ or https://mistr.com/dap-sistr/  

Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Tas …

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Jeff Hocker
(760)409-1530
jeffhocker1@gmail.com

Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force Launches Capital Campaign During World AIDS Day

(Palm Springs, CA) November 30, 2021… The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force is excited to announce that the AIDS Memorial Sculpture is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Palm Springs City Council recently unanimously approved the acceptance of the Sculpture to be placed in the new Downtown City Park. The Task Force has also partnered with DAP Health to provide a dedicated link to enable community members to help fund the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture, visit https://www.daphealth.org/aids-memorial-fund/.

“December 1, World AIDS Day was chosen as the launch, as it signifies the remembrance of those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS and gives renewed hope that one day, the virus will be eradicated. It is our responsibility to remember their lives and to continue to tell their stories, so that they are never forgotten,” said Mike Richey, Co-Chair National AIDS Memorial. “AIDS has affected every community across the world, and it is for this reason that AIDS Memorials should be established to honor & remember those lost.”  

The Task Force’s vision is to provide the AIDS Memorial Sculpture as a gift to the City of Palm Springs and people of the Valley. Internationally acclaimed artist based in the Coachella Valley, Phillip K. Smith, III, has been commissioned to design the memorial, which will provide an opportunity for reflection, remembrance and hope once its placed in the new City of Palm Springs Downtown Park.

“The AIDS Memorial Sculpture will be a touchstone for unity, hope, grief, and healing in the Coachella Valley.  As a monolithic, singular stone sculpture, the carved surfaces will dance with light, shadow, and reflection.  Through rotating grooves cut into the gloss surface as matte marks signifying unity through struggle or the soft curve of undulating forms evoking healing over grief, this is a memorial to be touched, to be felt. It is a timeless, enduring landmark delicately placed on the land. It is heavy, but light -- lifting hope, lifting struggle, and lifting up what is important,” described Phillip K. Smith, III.

The Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force’s mission is to ensure the lives of those lost are never forgotten, and that their stories and lives are remembered into the future.  We also envision an opportunity to use this memorial as a means to educate the public about HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment options available to everyone who seeks information and to help direct individuals to resources available to them throughout the city, and the country.

The goal of the Task Force is to raise the necessary funds to support the creation, installation and ongoing resources to maintain this sculpture for generations to come.  Given the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on our community, we believe there will be great support for securing the necessary funds to make this AIDS Memorial Sculpture a reality. 

Donations to the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Fund can be done by visiting https://www.daphealth.org/aids-memorial-fund/. For more information contact:  Dan Spencer, Member Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Sculpture Task Force at dan@danspencerstudio.com.

DAP Health sees large uptick in HIV and …

DAP Health sees large uptick in HIV and STI testing since offering free service  

Eliminating cost barrier has drawn more people to get tested and care in past four months 

PALM SPRINGS, CA – Since eliminating the cost barriers in its Sexual Wellness Clinic/Orange Clinic, DAP Health has seen an ongoing STI increases while HIV has remained the same, according to CJ Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness.  

DAP Health knew access to these services would be vital while social activities increased 

In the first four months:  

  • The Orange Clinic saw over 2,000 patients. 
  • On average, DAP Health is seeing 170 more patients per month than when patients were being charged for services.  
  • The clinic started the same amount of people on PrEP during the four months than they did in the prior 12 months.  
  • There were over 50 appointments for rapid start to ensure people newly diagnosed with HIV, or returning to care, have access to HIV medications within 7 days.  

“We are proactively protecting the community’s health,” Tobe said. “Eliminating the cost barrier has proven to increase access to folks in our community for PrEP and STI services.” 

Free services include STI testing and treatment (gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis), HIV prevention (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP; post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C testing.

If anyone tests positive for HIV, the sexual wellness clinic will provide that person with rapid start medication and linkage to care, an essential step in reducing new HIV infections and improving the health outcomes of the person living with HIV. While the cost of ongoing HIV treatment is not part of the free services, DAP Health offers financial assistance. 

DAP Health continues to make sexual wellness a priority by providing more people with more access to health services. It also continues to expand its ability to treat more people. 

"We welcome all people, period. And now we are eliminating more barriers to access sexual wellness services," Tobe said while explaining why DAP Health has decided to offer free sexual wellness services. 

“One of those barriers is cost. DAP Health learned many people testing positive for STIs and HIV had limited incomes,” Tobe says. “For them, the prior $25 fee for STI testing and PrEP was an impediment to care. DAP Health decided to remove that cost barrier to improve health equity.”

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 health care, 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.    

 

 

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." 

2021 Desert AIDS Walk reaches new milest …

Contact: Leighton Ginn
Public Relations Specialist
(760) 567-2983
lginn@daphealth.org


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 2, 2021

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

FUNDS FROM THE OCTOBER 30 EVENT WILL GO TOWARDS COMPREHENSIVE CARE AT DAP HEALTH

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 www.daphealth.org to learn more.

Coachella Valley Housing Coalition Secur …

Coachella Valley Housing Coalition Secures Funding for Special Needs Housing Development on DAP Health Campus

October  6, 2021 (Indio, CA) – The Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC) in partnership with  DAP Health, announced today the successful award of $10,809,380 in federal tax credits and $8,107,033 in State tax credits from the California Debit Limit Allocation Committee and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. The successful award of financing is needed to begin construction of the 61-unit special needs affordable housing development known as Vista Sunrise II.  The Vista Sunrise II development will be constructed on the DAP Health campus at Sunrise and Vista Chino in Palm Springs.  This new development consists of studios and one-bedroom units for individuals and families who experience chronical illnesses, physical or mental disabilities, or those who are homeless.

The award comes just weeks after the announcement by the Riverside University Health System-Behavioral Health (RUHS-BH) that the development would be awarded $6,769,577 in No Place Like Home Funds (NPLH). One million dollars of this award was allocated directly through the NPLH Riverside County allocation for RUHS-BH, the remaining funds were awarded through a competitive state application where the project was one of the highest scoring applications in this funding round. In late June, the Federal Home Loan Bank announced that the project was awarded $900,000 in Affordable Housing Program funds. Earlier this year the City of Palm Springs committed $3,600,000 in Housing Homeless Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) funds along with a 100% reduction in development impact fees. 

Vista Sunrise II was also awarded 35 project-based section 8 vouchers from the Housing Authority of the County of Riverside; the award of these vouchers will allow individuals who might otherwise not have any resources to pay rent, even at rates which are lower than fair market rents, to obtain an apartment. The Vista Sunrise II development will cost just over $30M to construct and would not be possible without the collaboration of numerous funding sources and the partnerships of CVHC and DAP.

The City of Palm Springs is making major efforts to address the housing crisis as well as the mental and physical health disparities that are often linked to inadequate housing. Partnerships with the CVHC (the largest provider of affordable housing in the Inland Empire) and DAP Health (a premier Federal Qualified Health Center serving over 10,000 patients annually) are perfect as it relates to reducing homelessness and increasing decent and safe housing. Residents of the development will live only steps away from many of the critical services they need on the campus of DAP Health. In conjunction with RUHS-BH, DAP will provide wrap-around supportive services for residents and their families.

This project benefits the community in multiple ways beyond providing affordable housing. It also:

  • Brings jobs to the community: the project provides prevailing wage construction jobs to locals
  • Energy Efficient: This community also meets energy standards through the Energy Star Program, Build It® Green—Green Point Rated Program and Green Property Management. It will also offer the same energy-efficient standards through its refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves/ovens, and other appliances.
  • Outdoor recreation: A dog park and green space which will offer seating for Vista Sunrise II residents, Vista Sunrise I residents, and DAP Health staff and visitors will be constructed as part of the development.
  • Computer Center: All residents will have access to the computer center located in the community room.
  • Demonstration Kitchen: Residents will learn to prepare healthy meals through free classes and workshops offered at the demonstration kitchen located within the community room.

 “For our community to achieve health equity, affordable housing must be a part of the healthcare continuum.  Partnering with CVHC allows us to strengthen the housing stability safety net for residents in Palm Springs.  We are fortunate to have a strong and like-minded partner in CVHC,” says David Brinkman, CEO of DAP Health.  

“It takes a village to be able to build high quality affordable housing development for a well-deserved special needs population.  CVHC is extremely grateful to all the funding agencies that are financially supporting this much needed development in the city of Palm Springs.  Thank you to DAP Health for choosing to partner with CVHC to develop this much needed affordable housing project and to provide supportive services to the residents. We look forward to begin construction of this development in the coming months” says Pedro S. G. Rodriguez, Interim Executive Director of CVHC.

####

Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC) is a nonprofit community development corporation serving farmworkers, veterans, families, seniors, and other low-income residents.  Founded in 1982, CVHC's mission is to improve low-income individuals and families' living conditions by constructing and operating affordable housing infused with community services programs and other opportunities that enrich, build, and grow their lives. 

For more than 39 years, CVHC has been providing affordable housing and community development programs to hundreds of individuals and families.  To date, CVHC has developed close to 5,000 homes and apartments throughout Riverside and Imperial counties. In addition, CVHC provides its residents access to a variety of programs, including early childhood education centers, after-school and recreational programming, medical clinics, cultural music, art and dance classes, computer technology instruction, STEM-blended Lego Robotics, an Alternative High School and GED Diploma program, Financial Literacy, English as a Second Language courses, homeownership counseling and other opportunities that improve their lives and livelihoods.  For more information, please visit www.cvhc.org.

DAP Health (DAP) is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over  10,000 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.     

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

DAP’s sexual health clinic offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing.

DAP has earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP exceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.  

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 www.DESERTAIDSWALK.org.

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 www.desertaidswalk.org.

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

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