So yesterday I had the privilege of representing Gear at the first Get Tested Coachella Valley Campaign’s annual community update. The news was thrilling! In our Valley in which HIV prevalence is over twice the national average and less than half of residents have ever gotten tested, the number of tests administered and positive results uncovered have vastly increased. But more importantly, 88% of those newly-diagnosed were linked to care. In the state of California overall, the linked-to-care average is only 52%. And in our nation, it’s only 66%. Our Valley’s achievement is outstanding.
We haven’t talked a lot about it, but John and I have been part of the coalition to launch Get Tested Coachella Valley since before it even had a name. And we opened our community testing site before the campaign even started. It’s because we’re deeply committed to the testing-as-prevention model of HIV reduction. And because we’re also committed to giving voice to the people who are rarely included in mainstream discussion: the kinskters, the joyfully sexy, the ployamorous, the addicted, the sex workers, the sex tourists and more.
To its credit, Get Tested Coachella Valley has involved us at every step along the way. It has been truly remarkable to be included in a coalition with the likes of Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, Representative Raul Ruiz and Assemblyman Manuel Perez, and to be at the table with our local mayors, public health agencies, hospitals, media, businesses and amazing non-profits, large and small. And I must admit, it’s always a kick to introduce myself and our company amidst all those other folks.
I am ever mindful, however, that we are not at that table because of us, but because of you. By gearing up and showing up everywhere throughout the year, you tell our community that kinky people are among them and that we are important. And by supporting our store in the good and bad times, you tell people that Gear is an institution that matters to you. We don’t take that lightly. It was great to celebrate a little at the update yesterday. But it’s even greater to be able to serve you.
Gear Leather & Fetish