DAP Health Connects with Community for National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day
Words by Charles Sanchez
Saturday, October 15 is National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD), a day to raise HIV awareness for the Latinx community and encourage testing, prevention, and care. DAP Health continues our mission to advocate for the health needs of all our citizens, and we are passionate about addressing the specific challenges facing our Latinx community.
Latinxs are among the most vulnerable when it comes to HIV. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control)) estimates that among the 34,800 new cases reported in 2019, 29% were to Latinxs. In Riverside County, in 2020, 50% of those living with HIV are Hispanic, and 22% of new cases are in Latino men.
C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health, and Sexual Wellness at DAP Health, spoke to the ways DAP Health is making strides to bring information and services to Latinxs in our area. “In July, we opened a new sexual wellness clinic in Indio that’s completely free, including HIV appointments and PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis) services.” The new clinic was opened when it was realized that many clients were having to drive 30-40 minutes each way to DAP Health’s main Palm Springs campus, and a majority were Latinxs.
“We just opened July 11, so it's very new,” Tobe says. New, but the community response has been remarkable. In the first few weeks between the clinic opening and the end of August, DAP Health was able to get 20 patients started on PrEP and serve 200 patient visits in August alone. “It is already booming; we have also had OB-GYN doctors referring their female patients who are pregnant to get treated for STIs. It was the right move for the community, opening that clinic.” DAP Health has made services in the sexual wellness clinics completely free, eliminating that cost barrier.
“DAP Health opened the clinic in the middle of Latino community. Eighty percent of our staff is bilingual. All our informational brochures are in Spanish and English,” To make things easier to navigate for Spanish-speaking patients, all signage at the Indio location is in both English and Spanish, and all forms are as well.
Moreover, DAP Health tackles the needs of undocumented people who may not speak English and may be distrustful or baffled by the healthcare system. “We have staff that have gone through the process themselves. When a new patient comes to us with these challenges, we immediately connect them with those life-experienced staff to establish trust and help that patient.”
To mark National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, DAP Health is sending out mobile units to the San Jacinto college resource fair. Tobe explains, “we’ll be providing HIV testing, STI testing and a whole lot of outreach at the college.” DAP Health will also be on the other side of the Coachella Valley. “We’re also going to be giving out free HIV self-test kits at the Revivals store in Indio, so those are two big events that we’re doing on the 15th.” The tests include a phone number to help with questions and support, staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This is the 19th National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day,” Tobe looks at this as a way for DAP Health to let the community know that “we are here, and we want to listen to you.” DAP Health asks what the organization can we do to make things easier for the community. Whether it is language translation or transportation to the clinic. DAP Health wants to know what it can do to help you live your healthiest life.
Tobe believes that one of the most important things DAP Health has done is hire a community health team, which includes a trans-identified community worker, and Latino and Latina members of the team. “We've expanded access for anybody and everybody, but specifically Latinos, to be able to access sexual wellness services, HIV prevention methods, whether it's testing or whether it's PrEP, free of cost and also free of judgment.”