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Local LGBTQ Organizations React to Health and Human Services Strategic Plan Omissions

For Immediate Release
October 6, 2017
Tom Tarr, Director of Client Development
Tel: 760/656-8464
Email: [email protected]

Local LGBTQ organizations react to Health and Human Services Strategic Plan omissions

When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its 2018-2022 strategic plan, healthcare advocates quickly noticed that something was missing—any mention of minority populations, including the LGBTQ community.

Two local organizations, Desert AIDS Project and Equality California, are working to make sure that the omission does not go by unchallenged.

“For an organization with the mission ‘to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans,’ I question the motivation behind the HHS strategic plan,” said David Brinkman, chief executive officer of Desert AIDS Project. “As a healthcare provider serving minority communities in Coachella Valley, including our LGBTQ citizens, we are particularly concerned about this omission. The LGBTQ community in particular is disproportionally affected by significantly challenging health conditions. For example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released their findings that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at an all-time high.”

“We know STDs can also facilitate the transmission of HIV and raises the risk that people without HIV will contract the virus. Additionally, HIV-positive people who lack proper treatment and healthcare, can pass HIV on to others through sexual contact. Given that minority communities can be at the highest risk for STDs and HIV infection, it appears our federal agencies are opposing one another’s priorities and in the end jeopardizing the health of all Americans,” continued Brinkman. “We will be working with Equality California to amplify our voice and help protect access to healthcare for those in our community who need it most. It really underscores why we need to engage our community in our heightened advocacy efforts and expand our alliances with organizations like Equality California and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

“The HHS plan underscores the federal governments complete reversal of the prior administration’s commitment to address the health disparities faced by members of the LGBTQ community and other vulnerable populations,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This goes far beyond just eliminating the letters ‘LGBTQ’ from the plan—it signals a pulling back from the responsibility of the government to address the significant health disparities; including depression, substance abuse, low rates of health coverage and high rates of suicide, among other things. Equality California will be working with our partners, including Desert AIDS Project, to ensure that our federal government understands that its strategic plan should address the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”

About Desert AIDS Project

Desert AIDS Project (D.A.P.) is a Federally Qualified Health Center in Palm Springs, CA offering D.A.P. 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.  D.A.P.’s sexual health clinic, The DOCK, offers STD testing and treatment, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), and free HIV and HCV testing. D.A.P.’s Get Tested Coachella Valley campaign, the nation’s first region-wide HIV testing and access to care initiative, was recognized by the White House for helping to bring about an AIDS-free future.  D.A.P. is rated a “Top 20 HIV Charity” by About.com. Visit www.desertaidsproject.org, www.thedockclinic.org, and www.gettestedcoachellavalley.org to learn more.

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