Palm Springs, Calif., Sees Increase in HIV-Positive Test Results; Advocacy Group Seeks Additional Funding
An increase in HIV-positive test results is leading the Palm Springs, Calif.-based Desert AIDS Project to request additional funding from the Riverside County Department of Public Health for more testing resources, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports. According to the Sun, positive test results were at their highest at 15% one month in 2008. According to the group, the average rate in the area is about 5%. Officials with DAP said they have spent almost all of the $25,000 earmarked from the county for HIV testing this fiscal year. A response for additional funding could be given as early as next week, HIV/AIDS Program Chief for Riverside County Victoria Jauregui Burns said.
David Brinkman, executive director of DAP, said that there is "no cure on the horizon" for HIV/AIDS and that an increase in HIV/AIDS cases "will be dramatic" if the group is unable to receive additional funding for testing for the next six months. According to DAP, two-thirds of people living with HIV do not know their status. Brinkman said, "We know that people change their behavior once they know that they are carrying the virus and go into treatment. The great way to prevent the spread of the virus is to get everybody tested. We're a huge part of the solution" (Brambila, Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/23).
According to the Sun, DAP -- which provides medical care and social services to people living with HIV/AIDS -- in 2008 tested more than 1,800 people in the Palm Springs area, which has one of the largest populations of men who have sex with men in the U.S. Burns said DAP "reach[es] the population that we need to reach." She added that the increase in positive test results is "something that we are defiantly concerned about" but that it is "not surprising" because "we know that their service area is greatly impacted by HIV" (Brambila, Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/22).