by Barbara Wisbey

For nearly 27 years D.A.P. has been meeting its mission of “Care” Prevention and Advocacy for thousands of people living with or at-risk for HIV & AIDS throughout the Coachella Valley and beyond.  Regardless of their
ability to pay. With a service area the size of the state of Massachusetts, D.A.P. is modeled by others Nationwide.  D.A.P. is a “one-stop” provider of an astounding array of services including Case Management, Medical & Dental Care, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Counseling, Eastern Medicine Alternatives, On-Premise Pharmacy, Lab, and County Benefits Specialist, plus a variety of “Safety Net” Social Services and a Community Center with daily activities and programs designed to combat isolation and stigma, all under one roof.
D.A.P. provides medical care and comprehensive support services to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Desert Community.  Free, confidential, rapid-result HIV testing is available, as well as counseling, Home Health
Services, Legal Assistance, and Assistance with Housing, Medications, Food, Re-Employment and more. Prevention and Education Outreach is available to any group.  As a Fundraiser, D.A.P. operates its Revivals Resale Marts.  You can Donate-Consign-Volunteer-Shop at all Revival Stores.  Revivals even buys entire Estates. For more Information call 760-835-7974. Free pickup on larger Consignment items.  To volunteer for D.A.P. please contact Hudson Alling at 760-323-2118 ext 244.
To volunteer for Revivals call Melanie Jones at 760-323-2118 ext 757. Desert AIDS Project Main Campus is located in Palm Springs at 1695 N. Sunrise Way at Vista Chino. For contact information www.desertaidsproject.org or 760-323-2118 and press 0 and an operator will assist you. Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM. Dine Out For Life! ALL DAY!  On Thursday, April 25, 2013.  Dine Out for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  Presented by Bank of America and Benefitting Desert AIDS Project.

There are many participating Restaurants. For more information please go to www.diningoutforlife.com/palmsprings or call 760-323-2118. This event will go on all day and proceeds will go to DAP. Other 2013 Events include, Harvey Milk Diversity Brunch on Thursday, May 23rd at the Palm Springs Hilton. Don’t forget the Summer Mixer in June which will be held at the ACE Hotel & Swim Club. Summer Solstice! Dancing with the
Stars in November which was a big hit last year. Mark your Calendars for Sunday, December 1st for the AIDS Walk and World AIDS Day. Candlelight AIDS Walk & Events in Downtown Palm Springs.  Also in December “Sparkle” will return to the Annenberg Theatre at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Desert AIDS Project staffs two full-time housing coordinators who assist clients in need of housing with individual assessments. You can get
help with short-term housing, emergency utility and rental assistance, and emergency mortgage assistance. If you need assistance with housing please contact Monica Aithchison at 760-323-2118 ext. 714.
Also their clients most in need can also turn to the Vista Sunrise Apartments, an 80-Unit affordable housing community located on the main Desert AIDS Project Campus.  This housing community provides permanent homes for people living with HIV or AIDS who earn less than 60% of the area’s median income.  DAP hosts a monthly Farmers’ Market in the Morris and LilaLinsky Annex Food Depot that provides clients with dry goods, staples, fresh produce, and perishables, all received from local food banks and donations. For clients who qualify, food vouchers are also available. Riverside County’s first HIV-Specialty Dental Clinic.  Good oral care,
hygiene, and dental care create a stronger immune system by addressing oral health problems before they become too serious.  While dental care is good for any person’s health, it can be even more important to the health of people living with HIV and AIDS to prevent infections and ensure proper nutrition.  DAP’s commitment to the overall health of their clients motivated their addition of a dental clinic to their Palm Springs Campus.
Opened in 2008 the dental clinic was the first facility of its kind in Riverside County. The clinic is outfitted with three fully equipped stations for diagnostic, restorative, and preventative oral health care. The dentist,
hygienist, and assistants are equipped to offer a wide scope of the procedures that you would find in any dental clinic, including oral exams, intraoral films, extractions, and restorative care including crowns, partial
dentures, and dentures.  Two dental x-ray machines are also used to create enhanced digital images that are uploaded into the patient’s electronic dental health record. DAP’s Community Services Wing, also known as the Community Center, houses many activities and programs including arts and crafts workshops, bingo and movie nights, a lending library, and “drop in” hours when clients come in to just hang out with their friends. The
Community Center is also host to educational programs and classes designed to increase health literacy and empower their clients to participate in their own care. Increasingly budget cuts have affected the national response to HIV/AIDS. Decades since the advent of the disease and the introduction of antiretroviral medications and combination therapy.  HIV/AIDS no longer has the same sense of immediacy that it once did. Having HIV or AIDS is no longer a death sentence like it was in the early days of the disease, but infections continue to occur and the rates are rising among some populations. Complacency over the continuing seriousness of HIV/AIDS when combined with a growing ignorance about safer sex and HIV prevention has contributed to the still-epidemic conditions that are greatly underfunded. In 2009. the state of California decimated HIV prevention and education funding for local AIDS service organizations and other community groups providing education, risk reduction, and HIV testing, Without funding for HIV education and prevention, many community programs had to shut down.  Without necessary education and HIV prevention information, the HIV infection rate will continue to climb even higher than the current 1% epidemic rate.  More people will become infected, which will cost thousands more dollars in the long run to care and treat them.

Education and prevention saves money. The average rate of HIV infection in the nation is about 1%. Studies show that most people who know they’re HIV positive takes steps to ensure they don’t spread the disease to others. But the CDC estimates that about one if five people who have HIV don’t know it, which means they could potentially be spreading the disease. In the Coachella Valley, we consistently see a positivity rate that’s three times the national average! Accessible and free testing in the community is essential but the 2009 California State Budget removed all HIV testing funds.  Even so, we continue to provide confidential and free HIV testing in Palm Springs and surrounding areas. Each test that they administer costs about $15. Last year, Desert AIDS Project conducted approximately 1600 tests, completely free.  That means is costs them over $20,000 a year to provide free and confidential testing in an effort to stop the spread of HIV and its progression to AIDS.