DAP Health Advocates for and Supports LGBTQ+ Community at Greater Palm Spring Pride
DAP Health walked with pride alongside a bright progressive rainbow of other community organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community during the 35th Annual Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival. The advocacy-based healthcare organization has provided community healthcare since 1984 and proudly sponsored this year's community stage which highlighted local talent.
This year's Pride event drew tens of thousands of enthusiastic participants from around the globe who gathered in Palm Springs for a weekend of community, music, friends, and of course, the legendary Palm Springs Pride Parade which featured over 250 entrants this year.
“It was overwhelming to be together again at this year’s parade,” says Nick Valenziano, DAP Health Manager of Executive Affairs. Valenziano organized DAP Health’s participation in Pride this year alongside a committee made up of DAP Health employees. “As I watched the street fill up with all the participants, it really hit me that I hadn’t been among the community in this way in such a long time.”
DAP Health’s Pride Parade contingent returned to its advocacy roots this year inviting employees and supporters to carry signs that amplified the organization's commitment to health equity. Some of the signs read “No Stigma,” “Sex Work Is Work,” “Mental Health is Health”, “Black Lives Matter,” and “U=U”.
DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing, Steven Henke explains. “Our approach was to focus our messaging on the very real challenges faced by the communities we serve. Stigma and shame remain barriers to health care for too many people living with HIV or mental health challenges. The U=U campaign (undetectable equals untransmittable) aims to end the stigma around HIV that keeps too many people from getting tested for HIV or obtaining the care they need to stay healthy. At the end of the day, the message we wanted to deliver is that DAP Health welcomes all people. Period."
“You could feel the energy moving in both directions, all of us greeting them and them waving back, shouting and clapping,” Valenziano said. “It was like we were all rediscovering humanity.”
DAP Health’s Department of Community Health team provided education, counseling, and testing to hundreds of Pride goers who took advantage of free and confidential HIV testing, STI testing, PrEP consultations, and the condom bar offerings. The message they delivered: We offer judgment FREE testing and treatment.
DAP Health's focus on sexual wellness remains on the forefront of a trend that has seen an increase in STI's
CJ Tobe, Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness at DAP Health, explains "we’ve continued to see an increase in STIs through the COVID pandemic, but even more specifically in the last 6 months we’ve seen a significant increase in syphilis and gonorrhea.”
DAP Health continues to offer free services in its Orange Clinic. Free services include testing and treatment for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis; HIV and hepatitis C testing; and pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP— treatments available for those at risk of coming into contact with HIV and those who may have already been exposed to it.
The Orange Clinic provides anyone who tests positive for HIV with rapid start medication and links them to care.