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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

Our Collective Wisdom Mobilizes Our Hope

Our Collective Wisdom Mobilizes Our Hope  

Weekend Wrap Message -- Saturday, December 12, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO  

Mobile Testing and Treatment Thanks to Direct Relief 

STI rates remain the highest they have been for California in three decades, and many in the Coachella Valley continue facing new barriers to care and treatment as COVID continues. But thanks to a generous award from Direct Relief, our Mobile Testing team will regularly bring STI testing and treatment directly to neighborhoods where we know the need is greatest for these services.  

This award also enables us to provide more STI testing and treatment at DAP in our sexual health clinic, staffed by DAP clinicians and following COVID health and safety protocolsDAP is the only California health center among 10 others nationwide that won the Innovation Awards in Community Health: Addressing Infectious Disease in Underserved Communities. You can read more here. 

Dr. Kerkar Distinguished by IDSA  

While COVID continues to complicate healthcare, DAP is taking a leadership position in this Valley, thanks to our medical team specialized in infectious diseases. Dr. Shubha Kerkar was given the top honor in her field when she was elected recently as a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the nation’s leading infectious diseases professional society. Dr. Kerkar helped us write the roadmap created during the worst years of the AIDS crisis, one that we apply today for patient care at DAP. You can read more here

DAP Talks: Volunteers  

Keeping about 200 volunteers rewarded during this time of historic uncertainty seems like it would be challenging, but the mission of DAP inspires so many that Marcie Lerner and Larry Naishtut, our volunteer services coordinators, are in good company when it comes to helping to keep our organization on track. Between the hunt for treasure at Revivals and serving 8,000 DAP patients through a variety of programs, there really is something for everyone if they want to get involved and give back with a gift of their time. You can listen here.  

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

Paying it Forward by Making it Safe

Paying it Forward by Making it Safe

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, November 28, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

New cases of COVID are increasing around us, and we continue to expand services for our community as we wonder if we can always purchase PPE for our health workers. But when one humanitarian decides to pay it forward in this Valley, it can have a ripple effect that helps thousands.  Thanks to Jose Villanueva, CEO of Everrank Inc., DAP received 10,000 masks, including 1,000 KN95 masks to help keep our clinicians and our patients protected.  

“I’ve been given so much,” he said. “I wanted to give back to this community after seeing how much need there is.” 

Mr. Villanueva’s generosity is touching all of Riverside County, with a total of 500,000 masks that will be distributed to healthcare and community organizations, a donation costing $163,000.00.   

Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez put it best on Monday at a press conference on our campus announcing this truly inspiring donation: 

“Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It is an act of service; it is an act of caring; it is an act of love towards your neighbor,” Supervisor Perez said. “It is a simple requirement to protect ourselves and all those around us.” 

If you are getting together with friends at home, or traveling during the rest of this holiday, the CDC has a useful health resource online that can help you to make the best choices for safety. You can access it here. 

After-Dark Event Raised Funds and Evoked …

DAP COVID Report Shows Impact of Support 

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, November 21, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

After-Dark Event Raised Funds and Evoked Origins of DAP   

This community raised $6,000 in the first hour as it shopped last Sunday for all things leather at the Revivals After Dark Back Alley Event  

Volunteers worked to make the event safe, so that everyone attending could focus on finding incredible deals on a variety of leather clothingplus accessories, erotic art and literature. These items are donated to Revivals Stores throughout the year and put aside for this special event.  

Hosting the event outdoors was the right thing to do for safety, and it also created an urban feel that was enhanced with upbeat music as people shopped. And because mental health advocacy requires a community approach, we co-sponsored this pop-up event to support work by Charlie Harding, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2020, and his organization.  

The alley has a very special significance to DAP.   

Decades ago in an office above, a group of off-duty medical professionals would meet AIDS patients at night to administer treatments in an era when HIV was still a mystery and conventional healthcare providers in the area were forbidden from treating people with AIDS. This was the beginning of Desert AIDS Project. You can read more here. 

DAP COVID Report Shows Impact of Support 

COVID has increased the need for DAP Health Center, especially as new cases of HIV and STIs emerge, and the economy forces more people to lose access to their primary care. We knew trouble was in store as news of COVID emerged last winter, but nothing could prepare us for what came next. Because the community stood up for DAP, today we continue to respond to the damage COVID is causing to public health in our Valley. You can read our 2020 Community Impact Report Our COVID Response here. 

Influencing Care Today from What We Lear …

Influencing Care Today from What We Learned

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, November 14, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO 

DAP Contributes to HIV Primary Care Standards Updates

Even though HIV care with antiretroviral therapy (ART) is available at DAP, elsewhere throughout the U.S. not enough people with HIV (PWH) are reaching viral suppression with care and treatment. We must change this, and it will require new ways of providing comprehensive, evidence-based primary care to PWH.

COVID continues to expose inequities in HIV healthcare, and PWH need help now. That is why it is exciting that for the first time since 2013, the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America updated its care guidelines for PWH. Our own Dr. Tulika Singh, associate chief medical officer, was one of only eight co-authors who worked on this important resource that will have a national and global impact on PWH. You can learn more here.

DAP Talks: PrEP Uncovered

As we practice heightened awareness around COVID, we are actively addressing the HIV epidemic that continues to threaten this Valley.  Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is 99.9% effective in preventing HIV when used as prescribed, and DAP wants to lower barriers to anyone who needs it. Andy Ansell, PrEP program manager, shared the top questions people have about PrEP at DAP. You can listen here.

Revivals Treasure Hunt

It is so rewarding to see how much incredible inventory is being scooped up by Revivals customers while they save 50 percent. We launched our Treasure Hunt sale to celebrate Revivals Stores’ silver anniversary and to thank our community for supporting us these 25 years. Throughout November 25, all items with a ‘25-year’ sticker are half-off. Dane Koch, director of retail, told The Desert Sun more about how this hometown chain helps fund healthcare at DAP. You can read more here.

Finding Strength in Stories of Others

Finding Strength in Stories of Others

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, November 7, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO 

With #MyPrideStory, DAP Joins Apple Podcast

Going virtual for Pride this year is best for the public health, but it also means many LGBTQ+ people are losing an important annual tradition for self-affirmation, publicly celebrating a holiday created to champion LGBTQ+ self-acceptance, social progress and history. We can still enjoy and share stories of hope and resilience, keeping the spirit of Pride alive this year for ourselves and others. I invite you use the hashtag #MyPrideStory and share on social media about your first Pride experience, and how it made you feel.  I started by sharing my personal story of my first Pride celebration, and it brought back a lot of other special memories that remind me of why I am so committed to this work.  You can listen to my podcast with Steven Henke here

This is the first DAP Talks to be hosted on Apple Podcast and available on RSS feed. We will continue trying to reach at-risk populations with health information and access to care in a manner that works for them, and Apple is the world's largest platform for podcast discovery and listening.

Revivals Turns 25

COVID threatens to fragment communities everywhere, but Revivals Stores is safely bringing people together, all these years after it started on Vela Rd. near the airport in 1995. As it celebrates 25 years in business this month, Revivals keeps customers, volunteers, and donors coming back, even during this health crisis. It is major funding source for DAP Health, but its importance to our Valley goes far beyond that.

For 180 volunteers who provide their time and talent, we hear moving stories about their pride in giving back, their sense of community, and of seeking stability during COVID.

By adding safety practices and modifications in all three Revivals Stores early in the crisis, it has been able to continue serving this community. You can read more here.

Uncovering New Reasons for Hope

Uncovering New Reasons for Hope  

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, October 31, 2020, from David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO 

Gratitude for a successful Desert AIDS Walk 2020 

COVID could not stop Desert AIDS Walk 2020, as this community laced up last weekend and walked to end HIV, support our COVID Clinic, and increase healthcare equity for all. With some slight reimagining, this community came together for the tradition safely and with a lot of love. 

We are so thankful to everyone who walked this year, as well as our sponsors who supported us.  

Sandie Newton hosted an NBC Palm Springs special broadcast featuring reasons this event is more important than ever. And to keep with tradition, you can hear the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus performing the opening song, beautiful rendition of “Rise Again”. 

Preventing Flu During COVID 

With a third wave of COVID upon us while flu season is also starting, many risk becoming co-infected with both viruses if they have not received their influenza vaccination.  

“It’s an especially important year to get your flu vaccine, says to Dr. David Morris, our chief medical officer. He and his team are concerned about our hospitals becoming overwhelmed with cases that could be prevented with a flu shot. Anyone who is interested in talking to someone about COVID and the flu should call our COVID Hotline at (760) 992-0407You can learn more in this DAP Talks.  

DAP Study: One Shot Every Two Months for Viral Suppression 

For some PLWHA, taking medication in pill form every day is difficult, and it can cause poor adherence that harms their health and puts others at risk. DAP Health is committed to offering more options for antiretroviral treatment (ART), and we are one of the few health centers in the U.S. working on a study using only six ART injections per year for viral suppression, with ViiV Healthcare. You can read more here

Stepping Up For Patient Access Now and T …

Stepping Up for Patient Access Now and Tomorrow

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, October 24 From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO 

Anal Cancer ANCHOR Study at DAP 

Living with HIV puts many of our patients at higher risk for anal cancer, even if they are on successful antiretroviral therapy (ART). This type of cancer is on the rise for PLWHA, but DAP patients can receive long term screenings and treatment, thanks to our designation as an ANCHOR Study site.  

Our medical and research teams worked to secure DAP a place in this nationwide study, and participants can take pride knowing that they are helping improve care for future patients. ANCHOR Study seeks to stop cases of preventable anal cancer in PLWHA by establishing testing and treatment protocols. We have almost 40 participants enrolled so far, and we are welcoming more. Click here to read more here.

Advocacy Keeps Our Patients on Top  

COVID has increased poverty and is exposing more inequities in healthcare for PLWHA. Whether fighting to decriminalize HIV, securing access to telemedicine for patients, or funding for our most vulnerable programs, DAP advocacy in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., improves our patients’ quality of life. 

Carl Baker, our director of legislative and legal affairs, wants to urge everyone to remember that our politicians work for all of us, especially the patients of DAP. He shared about his activities to amplify DAP’s voice and how he can help patients communicate their needs to our politicians directly. You can listen to Carl in this DAP Talks 

Not Too Late for Desert AIDS Walk 2020 

Even though it happens this weekend, you can still register and participate in Desert AIDS Walk 2020. Steven Henke, our director of brand marketing, talked to Taylor Martinez on NBC and shared messages from community members about why they walk. You can watch him here 

DAP Makes Hope Mobile with Orange Van Tour  

Part of what makes DAP so important to this community are the skilled clinicians and community health team members who use our distinctive orange van to bring hope and health to many in our Valley who cannot make it to our campus. C.J. Tobe, director of Community Health, and Izabel Doublin, PrEP navigator, gave Taylor Martinez of NBC Palm Springs a tour. You can watch them here. 

Aging Positively Conference Offers Hope

Aging Positively Conference Offers Hope

Weekend Wrap Message – Saturday, October 10 From David Brinkman, Desert AIDS Project CEO

Over half of people living with HIV in the United States are 50 or older (CDC), and they often experience age-related illnesses earlier. COVID has compounded this as we see loneliness, depression, and PTSD become more prevalent.

We have the resources to help PLWHA thrive, and this year’s Aging Positively Conference is filling an important need for information and connection during COVID. DAP clinicians will be presenting topics for practical hope and living during COVID: addressing HIV treatment, coping with isolation, and even advice on dating. 

We are looking forward to hearing long-term HIV survivor and Broadway star of Hamilton, Javier Muñoz, share how he is using his passion and creativity to make a huge difference with Broadway Relief.

You can join this virtual conference from the safety of your home on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To find out more, click here.

Community Health Team Is Standing Up to COVID

COVID fear has many people skipping periodic STI screenings and sometimes, even basic self-care like eating and keeping warm. Sanitized and souped-up, our mobile testing van is in business and ready to bring testing, treatment, and linkage to care to those most at risk. C.J. Tobe, director of community health described his team’s efforts for improving public health during COVID. You can hear him in this week’s DAP Talks.

DAP In the News

We’re All In It Together: Desert AIDS Walk 2020

As the need for our services grows, sources for funding them are dwindling, especially with COVID. This year has challenged us and all humanitarian organizations in ways we could not have imagined. Our Board Chair Patrick Jordan talked to NBC Palm Springs anchor Thalia Hayden about why Desert AIDS Walk 2020 is more important than ever. You can watch here.

COVID Can’t Stop DAP STI Testing and Treatment

If we let the pandemic get in our way to end HIV and STIs in this Valley, we will only be compounding the tragedy of COVID. Over decades of doing this work, we have learned that to educate, test, and treat always strengthens public health, and it requires meeting our patients in ways that work for them. C.J. Tobe talked to Maria Sestito at The Desert Sun about the rise in testing and treatment for some STIs, and the need to remove stigma from sex during COVID. You can read more here.