Desert AIDS Project rebrands as DAP Health, expands services

Olivia Sandusky

In 1984, a group of volunteers founded Desert AIDS project to fight against the HIV epidemic.

“It was an opportunity to provide health care to people, bring meals to people’s homes, and fight the isolation they were facing, and connect them with mental health professionals,” said David Brinkman, DAP Health’s CEO. 

Over the years, the same skill-set the center used continued to grow, allowing staff to assist the valley through the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was the playbook that was written to respond to aids. Testing people, providing outpatient care, providing psycho-social support and also the basic necessities, knowing that marginalized populations would be hit the most,” said Brinkman.

Now, almost 40 years later, Desert Aids Project is transforming.

Moving forward, they’ll be known as DAP Health, a new name depicted through a brand new, colorful logo.

More details about the new logo can be found here.

The change is celebrated by staff and even the group’s original founders.

“The time is definitely right to make this name change. What I‘m happy about, of course, is that they kept that DAP moniker. I think that will ring in many people’s ears for still many years to come,” said George Sonsel, a DAP founder.

But not only is DAP Health rebranding, they’re expanding the services they offer the community.

The group writes:

“DAP is accelerating the build-out of a new behavioral health clinic on its campus. Also, access programs will grow like One Call, with DAP Health Navigators assisting newly unemployed and/or uninsured patients access health insurance or Medi-Cal through Covered California.”

The group also says, while “Aids” no longer appears in their title, helping individuals with HIV will continue to remain a top priority.

DAP also wants to focus on being inclusive.

“As 2021 unfolds, DAP Health will continue to promote the wellbeing of individuals by creating solutions to reduce or eliminate disparities in underserved populations, including people of color,” says Brinkman.

Excitement is growing over the care DAP Health will continue to share.

“You know the Coachella Valley has always had this need for providing care to the population where people don’t have health care, and this now opens up a huge door for these people,” said Sonsel.

Here’s a list of the ways DAP Health says they are removing barriers to care moving forward: 

• Offering case management (traditionally reserved for our HIV-positive clients) to a broader segment of the community that may currently remain unconnected to care.

• Making available a host of in-home services — a necessity since the beginning of the pandemic — to empower and protect the health of the community at large.

• Expanding mobile clinic services across the Valley to meet the health needs of the Hispanic/Latino and Black communities, and other high-risk, underserved populations.

• Providing smart phones and WiFi access to clients unable to afford them so that telehealth visits can continue and increase.

• Widely Distributing HIV/HEPC self-testing kits.

• Engaging in training programs to better educate healthcare professionals working in communities of color.

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