DAP Health expands Sexual Wellness in Indio, CA opening new clinic opening June 2022 and MISTR partnership expand the reach of health care services
DAP Health made two significant moves to expand free testing and treatment to the East Valley by signing a lease to a new facility in Indio and partnering with MISTR to provide virtual PrEP services statewide.
On Nov. 29, DAP Health signed a lease for a building in Indio to open a sexual wellness clinic. The organization hopes to open the new space by June 2022.
Free services will include STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) testing and treatment (gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis), HIV prevention (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP; post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C testing.
If anyone tests positive for HIV, the sexual wellness clinic DAP Health will provide that person with rapid start medication and linkage to care, an essential step in reducing new HIV infections and improving the health outcomes of the person living with HIV. While the cost of ongoing HIV treatment is not part of the free services, DAP Health offers financial assistance.
In 2019, 25% of all HIV-positive test results at DAP Health were Hispanic men. “Many folks were driving from the East Valley to Palm Springs to utilize DAP Health’s sexual wellness services. We noticed not only a high volume of patients but most of those patients were already having symptoms of an STI or testing positive for HIV,” says C.J. Tobe, the Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness at DAP Health. Tobe believes free testing and treatment, with the convenience of not having to drive a great distance, will encourage more people to get tested.
DAP Health is changing the system to meet the person. Since eliminating the cost barriers in its Orange Clinic that houses its sexual wellness services in July 2021, DAP Health has seen ongoing STI increases while HIV has remained the same, according to Tobe.
DAP Health knew access to these services would be vital while social activities increased.
In the first four months:
- The Orange Clinic saw over 2,000 patients.
- On average, DAP Health is seeing 170 more patients per month than when patients were being charged for services.
- The clinic started the same number of people on PrEP during the four months than they did in the prior 12 months.
- There were over 50 appointments for rapid start to ensure people newly diagnosed with HIV, or returning to care, have access to HIV medications within 7 days.
“We are proactively protecting the community’s health,” Tobe said. “Eliminating the cost barrier has proven to increase access to folks in our community for PrEP and STI services.”
“One of those barriers is cost. DAP Health learned many people testing positive for STIs and HIV had limited incomes. For them, the prior $25 fee for STI testing and PrEP was an impediment to care. DAP Health decided to remove that cost barrier to improve health equity.”
In addition to the new Indio site, DAP Health now offers PrEP services virtually through MISTR, a discrete online service that provides access to PrEP, the once-daily pill regimen that prevents HIV. With its secure online platform, MISTR can determine if an individual is a candidate for PrEP and makes PrEP completely free. Moreover, MISTR manages all paperwork and back and forth with insurance companies and the various patient assistance programs, creating a seamless experience for the end-user.
With the new clinic and the partnership with MISTR, DAP Health looks to make its services available to more people.
DAP Health continues to make sexual wellness a priority by providing more people with more access to health services. It also continues to expand its ability to treat more people.
"We welcome all people, period. And now we are eliminating more barriers to access sexual wellness services," Tobe said. “We are changing the system to meet the person. We continue to do this; First by eliminating the cost barrier and now opening a free sexual wellness clinic to people most impacted by HIV/STIs. That is health equity.”