PALM SPRINGS – David Brinkman is doing double duty these days. Not only is he running the Desert Aids Project, he’s also running after state lawmakers to help override Gov. Schwarzenegger’s decisions onHIV andAIDS funding.
“We sent out another e-mail blast to 7,000 people in the Valley asking them to call,” Brinkman, the DAP’s executive director, pointed out.
HIV counseling and testing budget was cut by 76 percent. Home and community care was cut by more than half.
In fact, a DAP staff member showed us what’s left of the department of education, prevention and testing.Its director left last week. The rest of the department was in the process of being let go today.
DAP may have a temporary solution to keeping things running by raising the fundraising goals of their annual events. For example, there’s the possibility of raising the DAP’s AIDS Walk’s goal by $75,000. If they achieve that, it pays for HIV testing for the next 12 months.
Desert Aids Project is also introducing two new events this year.One of them during the holidays, the other one at the end of November called Pedal Pusher, which will beabike ride through the Coachella Valleyfrom 25 to 65 miles.
But there is some good news.TheAIDS drug assistance program,also known as ADAP,will remain in place for another year.It will help clients like Dennis Golay,who depend on ADAP to pay for his meds.His meds cost $4,500 a month.
“I’m trying to put back every nickel and dimeI can, but when you’re living on disability anyway, it’s hard to save money,” Goaly says.
Brinkman says the budget cuts are literally a matter of life and death.The HIV infection rate in the Desert is 400 percent more than the national average.It’s a testament that HIV and AIDS are not over and neither are his phone calls.