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Walk Out Loud at Desert AIDS Walk 2022

THOUSANDS TO “WALK, OUT LOUD” FOR LGBTQ+ HEALTH EQUITY AT DAP HEALTH’S 2022 DESERT AIDS WALK 

What better way to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS than to unite as a community, raise our collective voice, and keep advocating for health equality, just as our brothers and sisters did at the start of the epidemic four decades ago  

PALM SPRINGS, California – Two thousand community members — from babies in strollers to seniors — are expected to participate in DAP Health’s annual Desert AIDS Walk, which will kick off at Ruth Hardy Park on Saturday, October 29, tracing a route through downtown Palm Springs. The theme of this year’s event, whose presenting sponsor is Desert Care Network, is “Walk, Out Loud,” which places its focus squarely on advocacy and on uniting the entire community in the fight for LGBTQ+ health equity. 

“Unfortunately, history is repeating itself,” says David Brinkman, CEO of DAP Health, an advocacy-based health care organization that provides service to more than 10,000 individuals annually throughout the Coachella Valley. “With queer rights falling under attack across our nation, and our government’s dispiriting lack of urgency in responding to the growing Monkeypox (Mpox) crisis, 2022 looks, sounds, and feels just like the early ’80s, when HIV/AIDS was decimating our community and politicians turned their backs, refusing to act. As we learned then, silence equals death, and when our leaders abandon us, it is up to members of our community to join forces and advocate on our own behalf. Only by coming out in unprecedented numbers and raising our collective voice this year can we show local, state, and federal officials that their apathy concerning LGBTQ people is absolutely unacceptable.”  

The Desert AIDS Walk registration will begin Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. for a 9:00 a.m. departure. The Health & Wellness Village sponsored by Walgreens will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Entertainers on the main stage will include The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus. 

The money raised thanks to the perennially popular pet- and family-friendly affair will go directly to fund DAP Health’s advocacy and health care efforts, with 2022 proceeds also benefitting a handful of community partners, including The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Brothers of the Desert, The L Fund and Queer Works.  

An Enviable Track Record 

Ever since its inception in 1984, DAP Health has centered its work on advocating on behalf of populations whose voices are often unheard — people with HIV/AIDS, people of color, those living in poverty, unhoused individuals, and people with disabilities, and people struggling with substance use. Through it all, the organization has never wavered in its determination to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and today continues to: 

  • Offer free onsite and mobile HIV and STI testing, including mailing at-home HIV tests to those unable to access its main Palm Springs campus. 
  • Link people newly diagnosed with HIV to care — and help them remain in care — so that they can be undetectable, therefore unable to transfer the virus to others (U=U). 
  • Provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). 

As always, DAP Health’s day-to-day approach to health care is a holistic one. Its umbrella of culturally competent services encompasses: 

  • HIV/AIDS outreach, testing, and care 
  • STI outreach, testing, and care 
  • Primary care 
  • Mental health care 
  • Dental care 
  • Addiction treatment 
  • Medical case management 
  • Client wellness services 
  • Housing assistance 
  • Medical transport 
  • Food/grocery vouchers 
  • Social services 
  • Mobile and telehealth services 
  • Health insurance and Medi-Cal assistance  

The recent opening of a DAP Health clinic in Indio is proof of the non-profit’s ongoing desire to expand its reach into the East Valley.  

As always, no patient is ever turned away due to an inability to pay. 

Community Impact 

The positive effect of DAP Health’s continuous endeavors to improve the overall health of everyone living in the Coachella Valley has indisputably been considerable, and its recent Vision Forward: Building for a Healthier Tomorrow campaign has served as a roadmap toward ensuring health equity for every one of our desert neighbors. 

In 2021 alone: 

  • 8,298 patients were seen at DAP Health. 
  • 8,182 HIV tests were conducted, with 53 individuals being linked to HIV care following their positive diagnosis and 58 patients consulting for PEP. 
  • 4,698 patients accessed the organization’s mental health services. 
  • 4,100 patients accessed its dental health services. 
  • 2,431 substance use visits were completed. 
  • 2,924 Hep C tests were completed. 
  • 901 Hep B tests were completed. 
  • 1,558 STI appointments were scheduled, with 947 patients being treated for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. 
  • 1,029 patients received PrEP, including 359 new PrEP starts. 
  • 1,188 individuals attended its community health presentations. 

You can download a PDF of DAP Health’s 2021 community impact report.  

COVID-19 

The invaluable experience and expertise DAP Health has gained through its service to all residents of the Coachella Valley over the last four decades enabled it to be among the first to provide a life-saving local response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and beyond. 

Monkeypox 

Similarly, DAP Health leads all other local health care organizations in its aggressive, targeted strategy to combat the widening Mpox outbreak — an effective effort that stands proudly alongside that of other cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. The non-profit is not only continually advocating for increased assistance from local, state, and federal governments, but has secured a considerable number of Jynneos vaccine doses, which are immediately being used to inoculate community members most at risk.  

DAP Health’s Desert AIDS Walk Community Partners 

Below are statements of support from some of DAP Health’s community partners.  

“The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert is proud to partner with DAP Health and Desert AIDS Walk 2022 to advance LGBTQ+ health equity in the Coachella Valley,” says Executive Director and CEO Rob Wheeler. “The Desert AIDS Walk brings our diverse community together in a powerful statement of solidarity, action, and resolve. The Walk reminds us that the LGBTQ+ community continues to be disproportionately affected by HIV and that all LGBTQ+ people deserve dignity, equity in health care access, and to live long, healthy lives.”  

“At Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, we believe all people should have access to the health care they need to make the best decisions for their health, life, and future,” says Vice President of External Affairs Vernita Gutierrez. “LGBTQ+ people deserve to live full and authentic lives free from discrimination, judgment, and stigma. As health care providers, educators, and advocates, Planned Parenthood is committed to serving all people with care and respect. We are proud to work in collaboration with partner organizations and community members in the Coachella Valley to work together toward health equity for all.” 

“As Brothers of the Desert supports this year’s AIDS Walk, we are encouraged by its focus on health equity for traditionally underserved and overlooked people. Let us be mindful on Saturday, October 29, 2022, that every great march for progress, from African American rights to LGBTQ equality, started with like-minded individuals joining forces and taking that first step to lift communities in need.”

Desert AIDS Walk 2022 Sponsors  

Presenting Sponsor: Desert Care Network 

Health and Wellness Village Sponsor: Walgreens  

Major Sponsors: Gilead, NBC Palm Springs, Revivals Stores, The Desert Sun 

Event Sponsors: Hot Purple Energy, Koffi, Palm Springs Disposal, Sysco 

Media Sponsors: Alpha Media, Coachella Valley Independent, GED Magazine, KGay, Promo Homo TV,  Standard Magazine, The Hollywood Times Today

For Participants 

Individuals interested in participating in the 2022 Desert AIDS Walk: Walk, Out Loud may register at desertaidswalk.org.  

For Sponsors  

Businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities related to the Walk or to the Health & Wellness Village may learn more by contacting DAP Health’s Director of Development James Lindquist at jlindquist@daphealth.org or 760.656.8413. 

About DAP Health 

DAP Health isanadvocacy-basedhealthcenter in Palm Springs, CA servingover 10,000 patients, offering medical and mental health care, free STI testing and treatment, dentistry, pharmacy, and lab services. A variety of wraparound services enable patients to experience optimal health, including social services, support groups, alternative therapies, and other wellness services. Excellent HIV care is provided by the largest team of specialized clinicians in the area.  Click here to read more about our commitment to health equity.      

DAP Health opened one of California’s first COVID clinics and hotlinesto offer screening, testing, and treatment. DAP Health is also working to address social determinants of health that are causing negative health outcomes during this pandemic, like food and housing insecurity, joblessness, isolation, and access to ongoing health care. 

DAP Health’s sexual health clinics offer free STI testing and treatment, free Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) services, and free HIV and HCV testing. DAP Health has earned Charity Navigator’s highest ratingfor the twelfth consecutive year – landing DAP Health in the top 6% of nonprofits rated. The distinction recognizes that DAP Healthexceeds industry standards in terms of financial health, accountability, and transparency.      

Visitwww.daphealth.orgto learn more.      

NEWS RELEASE 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Contact: Steven Henke 

shenke@daphealth.org 

612 310 3047 

 

Monkeypox is an Emergency

A State of Emergency with a Solution: Prioritize LGBTQ+ Health Equity Today  

We went from 1 monkeypox case in May to 5,000+ preventable cases today. I am devastated by how many people are in horrific pain. Pain and suffering could have been avoided had the U.S. followed its own predictions and prepared to respond.

Since the 2003 U.S. monkeypox outbreak, experts predicted another. And as HIV and COVID taught us, an outbreak would dominate in marginalized populations who face barriers to health equity.   

We are now in a state of emergency as declared by WHO (World Health Organization) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.    

The emergency is the rapid spread, but that is not where the emergency ends:   

The emergency is that prior to this outbreak, the US had an effective monkeypox test, effective medications, and an effective vaccine, yet our highest-risk populations still do not have access to it.   

The emergency is that many people, presently infected with monkeypox, are experiencing severe pain; pain so significant that eating and eliminating waste requires pain medication and in some cases, hospitalization.  

The emergency is that even prior to this outbreak, organized political discrimination against LGBTQ+ populations has been steadily increasing.   

DAP Health was founded because many in power failed our community. While AIDS attacked us from one side, apathy, and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community slowed the response, leaving us alone with a virus that robbed us of loved ones.   

It took until July 23 for the WHO to declare monkeypox a global health emergency - stating it was partly because the disease had not moved out of the primary risk group, men who have sex with men. Sadly, it should come as no surprise the US response remains slow and inadequate for LGBTQ+ community members worried about contracting monkeypox and to the thousands of people who have already been diagnosed.   

The only reason the monkeypox virus has not been contained is that the U.S. has yet to treat this threat to the health of gay, bisexual, and transgender people as the health emergency it is. New York and San Fransisco, both early in the response to HIV and COVID, have declared a state of emergency. Like DAP Health, they have been here before and they know that now is the time for a coordinated and swift response.   

DAP Health, with a patient population of 10,000, has only received 497 doses of vaccine and has yet to receive the TPOXX medication for treatment. Our nation’s LGBTQ+ community health centers, with a history of treating the community’s physical and mental health; with expertise in addressing stigma and discrimination, are most likely to reach those at risk for monkeypox, and yet, we are being overlooked and under-resourced.    

There is a solution to this health emergency:  

LGBTQ+ organizations should be the priority for vaccine supply and medications for treatment; because our approach strengthens the LGBTQ+ community. To end monkeypox, we must confront the discrimination in the US that has enabled this preventable crisis.   

LGBTQ+ health equity goes beyond a “shot in the arm.”  Our approach addresses the health disparities faced by LGBTQ+ communities by incorporating free HIV and STI testing and treatment, free PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) services, and access to affordable primary care, mental health, and substance use recovery.   

Every one of us needs to do our part. Let our elected officials know there is NO EXCUSE for another week of cases doubling while people suffer in excruciating pain. Let our elected officials know we are in a state of emergency and that the time has come to prioritize LGBTQ+ health equity. 

Here is an update about how we are prioritizing the distribution of the doses received and how we continue to respond to the current health emergency.  

DAP Health administered all 160 doses provided in our first allotment from the Riverside Department of Public Health.  

On Friday, DAP Health received 337 additional doses. High-risk DAP Health patients and community members who fit the current priority guidelines received an invitation to schedule an appointment for the JYNNEOS vaccine.   

DAP Health’s monkeypox hotline launched on August 1, and we are adding invitation-only Saturday vaccine clinics beginning August 6.  

DAP Health MPX Hotline: 760-656-8432 or MPOX@daphealth.org   

To stay up to date on the latest developments regarding Monkeypox please visit our landing page: daphealth.org/monkeypox 

 

Monkeypox

Anyone can get monkeypox.  It is important we do not create stigma during this current outbreak 

Transmission of monkeypox can occur with skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, but it is not an STI  
 

Since May 13, cases of monkeypox have been reported to The World Health Organization (WHO) from 12 nonendemic countries. The first U.S. case of 2022 was reported last week in Massachusetts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified nine cases of monkeypox across seven U.S. states, officials said Thursday: California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. “The virus is related to smallpox, but is far less lethal,” says Dr. David Morris, DAP Health Chief Medical Officer  

“I believe it is very important that we don’t use the current outbreak to cause stigma toward the LGBTQ communities,” says Dr. Shubha Kerkar, Director of Infectious Diseases at DAP Health. Dr. Kerkar, explains “The reason the current outbreak was first reported in gay and bisexual men is because the diagnosis happened at sexual wellness clinics.” Transmission of monkeypox is neutral to sexual orientation.  

“In some cases, monkeypox lesions can look like herpes or syphilis,” explains Dr. Kerkar. “It is important to clarify that monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease. It can spread through skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact, when someone has an active rash.”  Individuals may come in for an evaluation of what they think is an STI. Health care providers have been advised by the California Department of Health to consider monkeypox as a possibility in all health care settings, not just STI clinics.  

Transmission  

Monkeypox is known to spread through prolonged close physical contact with someone who has symptoms.  

  • Rash, bodily fluids (such as pus or blood from skin lesions), and scabs are particularly infectious.  
  • Respiratory droplets, ulcers, lesions, or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva.  
  • Clothing, bedding, towels, or objects like eating utensils/dishes, that have been contaminated with the virus, can infect others. 
  • People who closely interact with someone who is infectious, including health workers, household members, and sexual partners are at greater risk of infection.  
  • The virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the fetus from the placenta, or from an infected parent to child during or after birth through skin-to-skin contact.  

It is unclear whether people who do not have symptoms can spread the disease.  

Symptoms  

Symptoms include rash, headache, fever, muscle and body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and back pain. The CDC recommends that anyone with a new or unexplained rash get checked by a medical professional.   

Prevention  

Monkeypox can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact which includes sexual contact. Prevention includes avoiding physical contact with someone who knows they have monkeypox or who has a rash or skin lesions that may be associated with monkeypox.  

All health care providers are advised to be aware of monkeypox symptoms and if symptoms present, test accordingly.

Testing  

If monkeypox is suspected, diagnostic samples must be collected from the roof or fluid of vesicles, pustules, or dry crusts. Samples are sent to the CDC to confirm a suspected case.  

Treatment  

“Most patients will recover in 2 to 4 weeks and will not require treatment,” says Dr. Kerkar. “However, we look to health authorities for guidance and further information on prevention and even treatment in certain situations”  
  

Trusted Sources of News and Updates:  

California Department of Health  

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  

World Health Organization (WHO)  

Brothers of the Desert Empowering Black …

Brothers of the Desert Empowers Black Men and Allies in the Coachella Valley

On Feb. 7, Brothers of the Desert and Let’s Kick ASS will host a free online discussion, “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real – HIV and Black Gay Men.”

When chairperson Tim Vincent and the founders of Brothers of the Desert began their organization, it was a way to ensure black gay men would not feel isolated and have a group where they can bond. And in a short amount of time, Brothers of the Desert has emerged as a force in the Coachella Valley.  

Brothers of the Desert is a nonprofit that provides support for Black gay men and allies in the Coachella Valley through philanthropy, volunteering, mentorship, education, advocacy, and social networking.  

“When we were first meeting, we would go to a restaurant and there would be 10 of us and people would be like, ‘Is there a conference in town?’” Vincent says. 

One New Year’s Eve, they got together, and the group amounted to 20 men, all accomplished in different industries.  

“One person said, ‘This is nice that we are doing this.’ And looking around the room at who is in this group and what we have accomplished in our lives, we have a lot more to give than just socializing, hanging out, and connecting. Why don’t we make this a little more purposeful,” Vincent remembers. 

Since its birth in 2017, Brothers of the Desert has developed two signature events, the Wellness Summit in November, which DAP Health proudly sponsors, and the New Year’s Eve dinner-dance fundraiser. They also award scholarships to students and host a quarterly speaker series that covers topics such as practicing mindfulness, responding to systemic racism, acknowledging microaggression, and mental health and wellness for Black Queer communities.  

On Feb. 7, Brothers of the Desert and Let’s Kick ASS will host a free online discussion, “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real – HIV and Black Gay Men.” The special guest will be Corey Saucier, a Black queer HIV-positive poet, author, and playwright who will share some of his writings and his personal life story of living with HIV.  

The program will provide a retrospective on HIV in the Black Gay Community, updates on infection rates and treatment, testing and support groups, local resources, poetry reading, and music from Dr. Stephan Scoggins.  

“Vincent says Brothers of the Desert is creating a space for link-minded men in the desert, while also respecting the other organizations. Brothers of the Desert wants to be inclusive and supportive of its allies. 

“We want people to know that this is not an anomaly, that we are part of this community, and we are vital to this community,” Vincent says.  

Learn more about Brothers of the Desert by visiting their website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAP earns “LGBTQ Health Care Equality …

DAP earns “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” Designation in Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index

Palm Springs, CA (September 3, 2020) -- DAP has earned “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC). The designation is in the 13th edition of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), released in August. A record 765 health care facilities actively participated in the HEI 2020 survey. Of those included in the HEI, 193 earned an “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Top Performer” designation.

“When we started 36 years ago, HIV rights and the fight for medical access were synonymous with LGBTQ rights,” said David Brinkman, DAP CEO. “Opening our doors wider requires doing the work to always ensure that we hold ourselves accountable when it comes to honoring every letter in the acronym LGBTQ.” 

Every year, HRC recognizes the health care facilities that participate in the HEI for their dedication and commitment to LGBTQ inclusion. HRC also extends its deepest gratitude to these facilities for their courageous fight against COVID-19 and their commitment to addressing racism and injustice. As the final HEI surveys were submitted in March, health care facilities were kicking into overdrive to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Many faced a lack of equipment, staffing shortages and surging demand. Two months later, as the fight against COVID-19 continued, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers thrust America’s structural racism into the spotlight. HEI participants issued strong statements on racial justice and equity, participated in White Coats for Black Lives demonstrations and announced new programs to address racial inequities in their institutions and their communities.

In the 2020 report, an impressive 495 facilities earned HRC’s “LGBTQ Health Care Equality Leader” designation, receiving the maximum score in each section and earning an overall score of 100. Another 193 facilities earned the “Top Performer” designation for scoring from 80 to 95 points. With 90% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ care.

The remarkable progress reflected in the 2020 HEI includes:

  • 92% of participants met the HEI's training requirements, completing more than 150,000 hours of staff training in LGBTQ patient-centered care.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their patient non-discrimination policy.
  • 99% of HEI participants documented that they include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their employment nondiscrimination policy.
  • 53% of HEI participants indicated that their facility has a policy or policies that specifically outline procedures and practices aimed at eliminating bias and insensitivity, and ensuring appropriate, welcoming interactions with transgender patients.
  • After many years of trailing their corporate counterparts in the provision of transgender-inclusive health care benefits for employees, HEI participating healthcare facilities are nearly on par with the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) participants as 80% have at least one health care plan that offered this benefit. The latest CEI noted 85% of participants having such benefits.

In addition to active survey participants, the HRC Foundation proactively researched the key policies at over 1,000 non-participating hospitals. Unfortunately, the adoption rate at these researched hospitals stands in stark contrast to the near-perfect adoption by active participants. Among the researched hospitals in which we were able to find or obtain enumerated patient non-discrimination policies, only 67% have policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” and only 63% were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. The equal visitation policy, at 93%, is the only one that comes close to matching the rate of the participating facilities.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the education arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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