Clinton Speaks at Desert AIDS Project

Former President praises Coachella Valley leaders

Scott Hennessee, CBS Local 2 Anchor & Reporter, scott.hennessee@cbslocal2.com
POSTED: 02:47 PM PST Jan 15, 2014    UPDATED: 03:18 PM PST Jan 15, 2014 
Clinton Speaks at Desert AIDS Project
Palm Springs, Calif. -

Continuing the Clinton Foundation's events around the Coachella Valley, President Clinton spoke to a packed room of invited guests Wednesday morning at Desert AIDS Project. The crowd of 100 was made up largely of health care professionals, politicians, and other local leaders.

Clinton said there's much work to be done to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS. It's estimated that 1,000 people in the Coachella Valley are living with HIV and don't know it.  Much of the events focus was on getting people tested. Clinton emphasized that a positive test doesn't mean what it once did thanks to medical advances, and the availability of medicine.

"Now you can say you can have a normal good life," Clinton said. "And in the process of taking your medication you will become less infectious to others."

DAP is working to stop the spread of HIV in the Coachella Valley by offering free testing in its new mobile clinic. The new program is largely funded by a $1.5 million dollar donation from Desert Regional Medical Center. It will provide easy access to testing in every corner of the Coachella Valley for free, even to those without regular health care.

"The testing unit will go to churches, community events, concerts," said Desert Regional Medical Center CEO, Carolyn Caldwell. "It really will be able to go to the community and take the testing there."

The test is a simple mouth swab. You run it across your upper gums, and your lower gums. The results are available in 20 minutes.

"Our goal is to ensure that every member of the Coachella Valley knows their HIV status," said Desert AIDS Project CEO, David Brinkman. "We know our prevalence rate of HIV is double the national average in our community."

President Clinton said it was an honor to be involved in bringing people together in the Coachella Valley to put plans to improve people's health and well being into action.

"The potential implications of the success of this valley in dealing with these health care challenges, bringing people together in a way that doesn't make the problems all go away, and doesn't make the disagreements all go away but makes it clear that every day, somebody's getting the show on the road and people's lives are getting better," Clinton said. "The implications of that are staggering for the whole country."