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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.     

 

8 reasons why it’s time to get the COV …

8 reasons why it’s time to get the COVID-19 vaccine 

Have you gotten the jab? 

More than half of Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the California Department of Public Health. 

Many of those who haven’t been vaccinated have reservations about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, which is understandable. The good news, however, is these vaccines have been thoroughly tested, and they’ve proven to be safe and effective 

The CDC recommends that people should get a vaccine as soon as possible. Unlike a few months ago, the state now has millions of doses available and has opened eligibility to those aged 12 and above. 

DAP Health offers two different COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen). All eligible community members are now able to get one of these vaccines at our health clinic. 

Here are eight reasons why now is the best time to get vaccinated. 

  • Community matters. Be part of the solution. 
  • All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. 
  • Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine helps keep you from getting seriously ill if you get COVID-19. 
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 
  • After you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you may be able to start doing some things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. For example, you can gather indoors without masks with other people who are fully vaccinated. 
  • None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. Learn more facts about COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Getting COVID-19 may offer some protection, known as natural immunity. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the months after initial infection but may increase with time. The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness. 
  • Hugs feel good. Everyone loves a hug from someone they love, especially if they’re vaccinated.  

If you or someone you know needs to be vaccinated, please make an appointment today at DAPHealth.org/vaccine-request. 

 

Get Rental and Utilities Assistance Now …

Media Contact:
Jack Bunting
jbunting@daphealth.org
(760) 656-8472

Get Rental and Utilities Assistance Now at DAP Health

Open to all eligible County residents

DAP Health is now a full-time application site for rental assistance from United Lift. The service is available to any eligible Riverside County resident, despite immigration status. It is not necessary to be a patient or client of DAP Health to receive this assistance.

This service will be offered at DAP Health through June 30, 2021.

The program will cover up to 12 months of back rent and three months of future rent. Help with utilities is also offered.

The United Lift Rental Assistance Program is a coordinated effort between Riverside County, Inland SoCal United Way and Lift To Rise to keep Riverside County families and residents financially impacted by COVID housed by providing direct rental and utility assistance.

DAP Health is bringing its expertise with intake services, welcoming new participants daily.

The application process requires uploading forms online and providing supporting documents. This can be time consuming, but Mike Cohan, resources navigator, is adept at getting this done quickly for participants who work with him.

“We don’t want anyone getting lost in the shuffle,” says Michael.

Once at DAP Health, Michael completes their application online for them while they are with him. This includes scanning all of their documents and then routing them appropriately.

“I ensure that they're qualified before I send them in,” Michael says. “It’s been busy here, but it's been really, really good.”

That’s because of the impact this program is making in people’s lives daily, he says.

One participant lost her income because she is a house cleaner, and pandemic life has made customers cancel the service everywhere. The pressure to support her household of three has resulted in keeping long hours to stay active in job searching.

“She's actively looking for work in the middle of the night because she doesn't like not working,” he says.

While also caring for a sick loved one during the daytime, it was not long before bills had piled up.

Since meeting with Michael, she is getting 12 months of back rent covered, plus the utility bills.

Meeting with Michael also means being offered access to all of the other things DAP Health offers.

These include COVID testing and resources, plus ongoing medical and mental healthcare.

“It’s been a forum where they can come in and I was able to educate them on the services that we provide here for better health,” Michael says.

Having a partner in this work like Lift To Rise also helping DAP Health do more for the community, he says.

“It's made a world of difference because the team has provided so much training for us” says Michael. “They've been so supportive to make sure that we have the resources we need.”

Bi-lingual team members at DAP Health help make it easy for Spanish speakers to apply for the program when calling and visiting the campus.

“I have a lot of people that have come in who are Spanish speaking only,” says Michael.

Think you don’t deserve help? Guess again.

“The ripple effect that it's causing from having no job or reduction in hours, is definitely taking a toll on people,” he says.

Asking for help is hard for a lot of people. He works hard to put people at ease when they work with him.

“I explain that uncertainty from this pandemic is out of our control, and it’s happened to the best of us,” Michael says. “If you qualify and you need it, don't be embarrassed to take it.”

That the fear goes away before they leave, he says.

About Lift to Rise

Lift to Rise is a cross-sector, community-driven movement to improve life in Southern California’s Coachella Valley for the majority of residents who do not experience the opulence and luxury for which the area is known. With input from more than 50 collaborative partners and countless community members Lift to Rise created a 2020-2022 Action Plan—a roadmap to radically increase housing stability and advance economic opportunity for all Coachella Valley residents. We envision a future where all Coachella Valley families are healthy, stable, and thriving.

About DAP Health

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 9,700 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of 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 is also working to improve social determinants of health to prevent 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 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.

The DAP Health Research Program is a leader in research that supports better health outcomes for people with HIV (PWH). The Program offers The ANCHOR Study at DAP Health, and research studies exploring antiretroviral medication and the effects of wellness on health.

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.

Media Contact:
Jack Bunting
jbunting@daphealth.org
(760) 656-8472

Get Rental and Utilities Assistance Now at DAP Health

Open to all eligible County residents

DAP Health is now a full-time application site for rental assistance from United Lift. The service is available to any eligible Riverside County resident, despite immigration status. It is not necessary to be a patient or client of DAP Health to receive this assistance.

This service will be offered at DAP Health through June 30, 2021.

The program will cover up to 12 months of back rent and three months of future rent. Help with utilities is also offered.

The United Lift Rental Assistance Program is a coordinated effort between Riverside County, Inland SoCal United Way and Lift To Rise to keep Riverside County families and residents financially impacted by COVID housed by providing direct rental and utility assistance.

DAP Health is bringing its expertise with intake services, welcoming new participants daily.

The application process requires uploading forms online and providing supporting documents. This can be time consuming, but Mike Cohan, resources navigator, is adept at getting this done quickly for participants who work with him.

“We don’t want anyone getting lost in the shuffle,” says Michael.

Once at DAP Health, Michael completes their application online for them while they are with him. This includes scanning all of their documents and then routing them appropriately.

“I ensure that they're qualified before I send them in,” Michael says. “It’s been busy here, but it's been really, really good.”

That’s because of the impact this program is making in people’s lives daily, he says.

One participant lost her income because she is a house cleaner, and pandemic life has made customers cancel the service everywhere. The pressure to support her household of three has resulted in keeping long hours to stay active in job searching.

“She's actively looking for work in the middle of the night because she doesn't like not working,” he says.

While also caring for a sick loved one during the daytime, it was not long before bills had piled up.

Since meeting with Michael, she is getting 12 months of back rent covered, plus the utility bills.

Meeting with Michael also means being offered access to all of the other things DAP Health offers.

These include COVID testing and resources, plus ongoing medical and mental healthcare.

“It’s been a forum where they can come in and I was able to educate them on the services that we provide here for better health,” Michael says.

Having a partner in this work like Lift To Rise also helping DAP Health do more for the community, he says.

“It's made a world of difference because the team has provided so much training for us” says Michael. “They've been so supportive to make sure that we have the resources we need.”

Bi-lingual team members at DAP Health help make it easy for Spanish speakers to apply for the program when calling and visiting the campus.

“I have a lot of people that have come in who are Spanish speaking only,” says Michael.

Think you don’t deserve help? Guess again.

“The ripple effect that it's causing from having no job or reduction in hours, is definitely taking a toll on people,” he says.

Asking for help is hard for a lot of people. He works hard to put people at ease when they work with him.

“I explain that uncertainty from this pandemic is out of our control, and it’s happened to the best of us,” Michael says. “If you qualify and you need it, don't be embarrassed to take it.”

That the fear goes away before they leave, he says.

About Lift to Rise

Lift to Rise is a cross-sector, community-driven movement to improve life in Southern California’s Coachella Valley for the majority of residents who do not experience the opulence and luxury for which the area is known. With input from more than 50 collaborative partners and countless community members Lift to Rise created a 2020-2022 Action Plan—a roadmap to radically increase housing stability and advance economic opportunity for all Coachella Valley residents. We envision a future where all Coachella Valley families are healthy, stable, and thriving.

About DAP Health

DAP Health is an advocacy-based health center in Palm Springs, CA serving over 9,700 patients, offering medical and mental healthcare, STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab. A variety of 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 is also working to improve social determinants of health to prevent 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 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.

The DAP Health Research Program is a leader in research that supports better health outcomes for people with HIV (PWH). The Program offers The ANCHOR Study at DAP Health, and research studies exploring antiretroviral medication and the effects of wellness on health.

Visit www.daphealth.org to learn more.

Building Hope on Solid Ground

Building Hope on Solid Ground  

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

City Council Approval Feels Like Home 

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

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

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

Dr. Kerkar Urges: Trust COVID Vaccines 

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

Get Through Holiday Blues with Dr. Gover 

The holidays can be a difficult time, and this year COVID is compounding feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness for many in our community. Paying extra attention to our emotional health is important this holiday season, and it just got easier with practical strategies from Dr. Jill Gover, DAP’s behavioral health manager.  

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

Vaccinations: Winning Faith, Trust and C …

Vaccinations: Winning Faith, Trust and Credibility  

A look at the history of global pandemics 

By Shubha Kerkar MD, FIDSA, FACP, AAHIVS 

The possibility of control and eradication of the current global pandemic of coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) is now a distinct reality because of two promising vaccines that have shown safe and effective performance in preventing 95 percent of infections in preliminary data of phase 3 trials. 

How will these vaccines work? 

Vaccination prepares the human immune system to combat specific infections. In addition to the very basics, such as barriers to exposure with facial covering/masking, physical distancing and handwashing, vaccination is a powerful tool in the armamentarium of defenses against COVID-19.  

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines are based on a novel platform using “messenger” RNA to create vaccines (mRNA). They do not use the live virus or even any particle of a virus. They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept.  

The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.  

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give our cells instructions to make a harmless piece of “spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the muscle cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. In a placebo-controlled clinical trial where 30,000 to 40,000 volunteers in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated groups, there was a total of 100 infections, five in the vaccinated group and 95 in the placebo group. All volunteers who received the vaccine experienced no serious side effects, thus proving safety and efficacy.  

What does history tell us? 

In the real world, however, vaccines are only as good as the ability to be accepted by everyone. Winning faith and trust in vaccines depends on the credibility of the doctors, scientists and experts, and their ability to educate and help calm fears.  Once accepted, then the details of how to administer to the entire world population are practical challenges.   

 History tells us that vaccine strategies have successfully eradicated some of the deadliest infections on Earth, including smallpox, polio and measles, in times of scarce resources. The concept of vaccination was first noticed by the famous Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796 when he gave “lymph fluid” obtained from a milkmaid who had cowpox to James Phipps and established that he developed protection from smallpox.   

 In 2020, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, a deadly disease causing global pandemic for thousands of years. Worldwide vaccination was carried out in an era of no computers, no internet, no easy overseas transportation – all on foot – and simply targeting the worlds population one person at a time.  Of course, now, the challenges are different. 

What are we seeing today? 

Today, as I look around, not everyone is willing to accept vaccination as a silver lining in the dark cloud of this global pandemic. Perhaps there is no clarity, only doubt and mistrust, due to misinformation filtering through the current geopolitical scene, civil conflicts and social media, thus creating confusing layers. 

I remind all to look back in history: When Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine, 70 million mothers stood in line to get their children vaccinated – even before the benefits were confirmed.  Infantile paralysis was a devastating condition seen every year prior to that. Thanks to the polio vaccine – and the trust in that vaccine  today, it is part of childhood vaccination, providing 100 percent effectiveness in preventing polio. 

It is not just us here in the valley, our state or county. We must focus and be part of collaborative international cooperation and the contribution of global intelligence and unite in celebrating this great discovery. We must educate ourselves, gather all the courage and will to educate and counsel each other, and slowly win faith and trust in the possibility of prevailing in this battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Kerkar is director of infectious diseases at Desert AIDS Project and an infectious disease consultant at Desert Regional Medical Center and Eisenhower Health. For more information on vaccinations visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines. 

Image of DAP care provider

Shubha Kerkar, MD, MS

Physician, FACP, AAHIVS, FIDSA

Shubha has been performing infectious disease consultation since 1991 and has the distinction of having been a part of DAP since 1993 when she joined us as a part-time infectious disease consultant. Her practice is primarily focused on inpatient or hospitalized patients at both Desert Regional Medical Center and Eisenhower Health where she cares for individuals with serious infectious diseases. Once these patients recover and leave the hospital they continue on their path to a healthier life by transitioning to Shubha's office-based skilled management program at DAP. Click here to learn more about Dr. Kerkar.

To Honor our Values, We Offer Hope

To Honor our Values, We Offer Hope

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, December 5, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

On World AIDS Day 2020 We Re-Committed  

Fighting COVID did not distract us from marking World AIDS Day 2020 with an even greater commitment to end new transmissions and care for our patients living with HIV throughout their lives. We have reached significant milestones, yet the AIDS crisis isn't over. HIV infects 1.7 million people each year and kills another 690,000. 

Hope Begins with Health is our battle cry and our new campaign as we fight to continue care for PWH, as COVID continues to challenge us like nothing before.   

Our roots are deep from the lessons of compassionate care that the AIDS crisis taught us. From them we learned the importance of health equity for all, and COVID is calling on us to pay those lessons forward. We know that our founders would want us to expand our care to include COVID, a health crisis that long-term survivors are comparing to the earliest days of AIDS. You can read more here. 

Everyday Heroes 2020 Announced 

DAP is proud to honor the following Everyday Heroes for 2020: Dr. Terri Ketover and Dr. Tom Truhe.  

We honor them for their years of dedicated service and generous contributions of their passion, time and talents to DAP, and thousands of lives touched by their incredible leadership.   

We hope to resume our in-person event next year on World AIDS Day. This tradition bestows the title of Everyday Hero to humanitarians in our Valley leading the way to help people thrive with HIV, and to help prevent new infections.  

DAP In The News  

NBC Desert Living Now 

I spoke with Sandie Newton about how we are preparing for the future needs of our patients now.  I described our Hope Begins with Health campaign, our goal to raise the capital to continue offering HIV care, our COVID Clinic, and ever-expanding access to primary healthcare for our community. You can watch it here. 

Channel Q on Radio.com 

I talked with AJ Gibson and Mikalah Gordon about the significance of World AIDS Day, our origins as a volunteer-led organization, and how our HIV response has taught us that to defeat COVID, we have to eliminate stigma and discrimination and act to anchor our response in human rights. You can listen here. 

KESQ Evening News 

Steven Henke talked with Peter Daut about how DAP is echoing our roots, remembering that the solution for this epidemic, like the solution for COVID, is a community led solution. You can watch it here.  

DAP Talks: U=U  

With proper antiretroviral treatment (ART), people with HIV (PWH) cannot transmit the HIV virus to others. Treatment as prevention is a major breakthrough in the fight to stop new infections of HIV, and it offers hope in chipping away at the stigma PWH can carry with them. In this DAP Talks, U=U founder Bruce Richman explains. You can listen here

DAP Talks: Restoring Hope – Nation …

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been experiencing anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness, and loneliness. And some, to the point that those feelings have become unbearable. If you’re feeling hopeless and having thoughts about suicide or you’re concerned about someone else, listen to Dr. Gover, Clinical Psychologist, talk about some ways to find help, and restore hope.

Suicide Prevention Resources:

If emergency medical care is needed, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. The phone lines are answered by trained professionals; the call is free and confidential.

Riverside County

If you need to be connected to mental health services in Riverside County, call the CARES Line at (800) 706-7500. You may also call or walk into a Riverside County 24/7 Mental Health Urgent Care location. Whether you are in crisis or just need someone to talk to, all services are voluntary. Counseling and nursing, as well as, psychiatric medications are available. All locations are open 24/7 and everyone is welcome regardless of insurance type or ability to pay.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth and young adults, ages 13–24, over the phone, online and via text. Trevor Lifeline (24/7): (866) 488-7386, TrevorText: Text the word “Trevor” to (202) 304-1200 to text with a trained counselor on Fridays from 1–5 p.m., TrevorChat: Confidential chat service with a trained volunteer counselor available 7 days a week, from 12 noon –6 p.m. Learn more at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

It Gets Better Project

This website is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It’s a place where people can share their stories, take the It Gets Better Project pledge, watch videos of love and support and learn about resources. Visit https://itgetsbetter.org/ to learn more. What’s Up Safehouse What’s Up Safehouse is a 24/7, free, anonymous mental health crisis texting line. Get immediate support from a licensed mental health professional. Dedicated to helping support the residents of Riverside County through issues surrounding anxiety, substance abuse, depression, school pressure, peer pressure, LGBTQ struggles, relational issues, suicidal thoughts, bullying, and any other issue that is causing trouble. Text SHHELP to 844.204.0880 24/7 for immediate support and resources. Learn more at https://safehouseofthedesert.com/what…

DAP Patients Will Get HIV Meds Quicker U …

DAP Patients Will Get HIV Meds Quicker Under New Rapid ART Program

Palm Springs, CA (September 3, 2020) -- DAP has reached an important milestone in the fight to end HIV, winning designation as a Rapid ART Implementation Site, standing with just 10 other healthcare organizations in the U.S. The Award for Special Projects Of National Significance was won in a competitive grant process and is bestowed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

By joining this national demonstration project and collaboration with HRSA, DAP will share its 36 years of experience in the fight to end HIV, and it will boost resources for its HIV testing and treatment programs for people in the Coachella Valley.

For a three-year period, DAP will continue to build and share its best practices for making sure PLWHA receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) quickly after receiving an initial HIV diagnosis, or immediately after requesting it if they had stopped ART for any reason.

It’s a surprise to many, but people are still developing and even dying from AIDS in 2020, right here in the Coachella Valley. Our early intervention program had 160 referrals for attempts to find patients who had stopped filling their ART prescriptions, ceasing their HIV treatment without explanation. (Based on calendar year 2019)

Falling through the cracks means that some patients whose bodies had stabilized with life-saving HIV meds have stopped taking them, sometimes for five years or more. And for others, it means not starting therapy at all after receiving an HIV diagnosis.

Without accessing care, they are waiting until they are sick from HIV-related illnesses before attempting to resume ART and primary care.

Waiting to begin or resume ART always leaves a dangerous gap of time that could result in catastrophe, such as failing to ever adhere to medication therapy, or even death. Another consequence is the effect on others as sex partners are put at risk for HIV.

This collaboration with HRSA seeks to remedy the problem with a protocol that provides ART ASAP:

  • Same day as HIV diagnosis (some exceptions)
  • Quickly after request is made to resume therapy

The vast majority (about 80 percent) of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2016 were transmitted from the nearly 40 percent of people with HIV who either did not know they had HIV, or who received a diagnosis but were not receiving HIV care. (CDC)

According to Dr. Tulika Singh, DAP Associate Chief Medical Officer, not all physicians are permitted to treat their patients without administrative obstructions that derail health outcomes.

“Despite having extensive experience in HIV treatment and care, caregivers struggle to reduce high HIV prevalence and rising HIV incidence rates, due to delays in starting ART,” she says. “This is due to previous protocols and practicing traditional HIV medicine,” like having to do unnecessary lab work or jumping through hoops with insurance.

“No more!” says Dr. Singh.

Greater access for ART through this project will be enabled by DAP’s referral and linkage networks, with extensive arrangements with regional medical centers, community clinics and individual providers, in addition to this grant.

“We are able to provide rapid start ART for newly diagnosed persons living with HIV as early as the same day of diagnosis,” she says. “This will help us get to UN 90-90-90 goal sooner than anticipated and help our patients age in a healthy way.”

The Courage To Resume ART
Given what we know about the health consequences of stopping ART, the public health argument is strong for offering the resources to resume therapy quickly and without delay.

When it comes to why people fall out of care, “Every situation is so different,” says C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health at DAP.

Poverty affects most DAP clients, but it affects PLWHA uniquely. They might cope with denial, depression, and suicidal ideation. Stigma is often made worse by rejection from loved ones, and drug and alcohol abuse are more likely to increase.

But other factors may include housing insecurity, unemployment, lack of transportation, and fear of government due to immigration status. Being a recent transplant to the Palm Springs area from other parts of the U.S. also can also be a reason.

“People are also dying by not accessing all the things you need to make the medication keep working,” says Tobe.  “There’s a lot that goes into getting that treatment, starting with walking through those doors.”

In addition to ART, DAP helps patients thrive with HIV with access to social services they are eligible for, ensuring they receive needed food, housing, transportation, and home health care support if they need it.

U=U Helping End The Epidemic

The more people who are on treatment and undetectable, the fewer new transmissions there will be. According to Prevention Access founder Bruce Richman,

“We need access to treatment and removing barriers, not just for the wellbeing of people living with HIV,” he says. “But also, to prevent new transmissions.”

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is a humanitarian healthcare organization in Palm Springs, CA offering DAP Total Care – a combination of medical, dental, counseling, social services, support groups, alternative therapies, in-house pharmacy and lab, and other health and wellness services. DAP’s sexual health clinic, The DOCK, offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP’s Get Tested Coachella Valley campaign, the nation’s first region-wide free HIV testing and access to care initiative, was recognized by the White House for helping to bring about an AIDS-free future. DAP has earned a “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that we exceed industry standards in terms of our financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Visit www.desertaidsproject.org. 

About U=U & Prevention Access Campaign

Prevention Access Campaign is a health equity initiative to end the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV-related stigma by empowering people with and vulnerable to HIV with accurate and meaningful information about their social, sexual, and reproductive health. Find out more here.

Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) is a growing global community of HIV advocates, activists, researchers, and over 990 Community Partners from 102 countries uniting to clarify and disseminate the revolutionary but largely unknown fact that people living with HIV who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV.  

About UNAIDS 90-90-90

Removing barriers to ART is in support of UNAIDS 90-90-90, the global plan to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

The goal is that globally,

90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, and  

90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and

90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

According to its 2020 update, “the response could be set back further, by 10 years or more, if the COVID-19 pandemic results in severe disruptions to HIV services.”

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DAP Focused on Equal Access to Lifesavin …

DAP Focused on Equal Access to Lifesaving Information During Pandemic 

(Palm Springs, CA) August 12, 2020 -- More than ever, people need information to make the best choices for their health, and DAP has launched two new resources on its website aimed at keeping our community informed in a timely manner.  

“The pandemic proves that access to healthcare and information has not been equal in every community,” said DAP CEO David Brinkman. “And that inequality is driving poor health outcomes for people of color and people living in poverty.”

Created by DAP subject matter experts, these resources provide need-to-know information for anyone interested in the services DAP is known for, as well as anyone looking for resources to report about DAP or Revivals Stores for news stories. Materials are offered in English and en Español. 

DAP is making information about its life sustaining services more available than ever by bringing our collection of patient literature onto our website with our new Community Health Resources page.  

Each piece of literature can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF to save or share.  And if you’re a member of the media looking for story resources like B-roll, stock photos, plus a lot more, our new online DAP Media Kit has many of the elements needed to tell new stories about DAP or Revivals Stores. 

We Support Vigorous Storytelling 

About DAP Online Media Kit 

The DAP Media Kit is your one stop resource if you are a member of the press working on a story about DAP or Revivals Stores.  

In addition to media contact information, the kit offers: 

  • help with your newsgathering efforts
  • information on setting up an interview
  • DAP and Revivals Stores logos, images, and video for your story
  • social media channels

What the Community Health Resource Page Provides 

Topics include a COVID-19, HIV, STIs, Transgender Health, HCV and more. They include: 

COVID-19 Resource Guide 

Thriving with HIV: 

  • Living with HIV
  • HIV After Diagnosis

Preventing new cases: 

  • HIV Prevention
  • PrEP
  • PEP

Transgender Healthcare 

  • Safer Tucking
  • Safe Binding 
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy 

Hepatitis C 

Sexual Health 

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis

Youth Resource Guide 

DAP has learned a lot in 36 years of providing healthcare to the Coachella Valley, with an emphasis on helping people with HIV thrive, and ending new transmissions in our community. We invite you to use and share the resources on these pages. If you would like more information on any health topic, please call to speak to a specialist at 760-323-2118

About Desert AIDS Project 

Desert AIDS Project (DAP) is a humanitarian healthcare organization in Palm Springs, CA offering DAP Total Care – a combination of medical, dental, counseling, social services, support groups, alternative therapies, in-house pharmacy and lab, and other health and wellness services. DAP’s sexual health clinic, The DOCK, offers STI testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and HIV and HCV testing. DAP’s Get Tested Coachella Valley campaign, the nation’s first region-wide free HIV testing and access to care initiative, was recognized by the White House for helping to bring about an AIDS-free future. DAP has earned a “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator for the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that we exceed industry standards in terms of our financial health, accountability, and transparency. 

Visit www.desertaidsproject.orgwww.thedockclinic.org, and www.gettestedcoachellavalley.org to learn more.

We can’t forget about HIV and STI …

We can't forget about HIV and STI epidemics

Sharing Decades of Know How Online

We’ve brought our collection of patient literature online, so that everyone can access and download information in pamphlet format from home. Written by staff, these resources provide need-to-know information for anyone interested in the services DAP is known for. Materials are offered in English and en Español. Topics include a COVID-19, HIV, STIs, Transgender Health, HCV and more. Click here to access the page to start downloading.

We Can’t Lose Fight With HIV Because of COVID-19

In June, our team tested and counseled three times as many people with new HIV infections, compared to any other month in the last year and-a-half. This tells us that the last five months of living in the “new normal” has made taking care of sexual health harder for people.

By using DAP’s new at-home HIV testing, no one has to put their health on hold if they are sheltering in place. Anyone interested in using this resource or with questions about accessing sexually health services should email testing@desertaidsproject.org or contact April Cruz at 760-656-8425.

Ongoing medical and behavioral healthcare, plus a lot of wellness services, are always offered when someone tests positive for HIV at DAP.

Spike in HIV and STIs

Our community’s health is threatened by steadily rising rates of HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia. Many DAP clients are feeling fatigued from socially isolating and nervous about coming indoors for testing and medical visits.

Before COVID-19, we were battling an STI epidemic in the Coachella Valley that hasn’t ended. June saw double new syphilis infections compared to May at DAP, and chlamydia has been on a rapid climb for six months.

Thanks to our Community Health team, our clients can continue routine STI and HIV testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here

Plasma Donation Changes Lives

Our Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tulika Singh never passes up an opportunity to pay it forward for others. After recovering herself, Dr. Singh wanted to make a difference by donating her plasma for a therapy that is helping the sickest COVID-19 patients.

“If I can help even just one person, that will be worth it.” She got her wish-- within 48 hours, she learned her plasma had reached two very sick people in need. 

Adding More to Grocery Delivery

So many of our clients who are sheltering-in-place are long-term HIV survivors, and they are re-experiencing PTSD from the worst days of the AIDS crisis.

Our food home delivery program has been helping them stay nourished with healthy groceries since March. Along with help from our Client Advisory Board, now we’re adding essential personal care and household cleaning items to these deliveries, starting next week. 

Everyday tasks like cleaning your kitchen countertop, and personal hygiene, help us stay healthier and more connected to living.

If you or someone you know are living with HIV and struggling to find support, please contact Guillermo Ramos at (760)323-2118.

This was made possible by our grants team, who saw this need and obtained funding through ‘HRSA Ryan White Part C-Covid’ to support the home delivery program to our patients and clients. We are so thankful for this vital help from HRSA.

Getting Re-Tested After Having COVID-19

Re-testing after you’ve had COVID-19 is a natural choice, but your doctor will know best when to re-test you, and which test to administer for the most accurate reading. Please call (760) 992-0407 if you’d like more information. You can read more in our updated Q&A on Coronavirus here.

Re-testing too quickly will not change your quarantine time, and it could provide false results. If you need follow-up care for symptom management, DAP is here for you. 

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