27 Apr Meet the Team: This is Ralph
His Journey to the Public Health and HIV Sector
Inspired by a public health educator providing HIV education during one of his college classes, Ralph made a decision dedicate his life to HIV education and outreach. In 2004, he launched his public health career with the Inland AIDS Project as a community health educator. During his time with I.A.S., he successfully planned community outreach and organized linkage to care. After three years with I.A.S., he joined the Desert AIDS Project (D.A.P.) team to manage testing, education, and linkage to care.
Since he starting his journey at D.A.P., Ralph taken his small department and has grown it to a team of 7 public health professionals and 15 volunteers that provide linkage to care services, community outreach, and 1,000’s of free and confidential HIV tests each year.
“There was a time when I was the only one in the department, doing testing, linkage to care, reports, data entry, and presentations. To go from that to a full team of really good, smart passionate people is one of the things I’m most proud of.”
Ralph’s Vision on the Future of HIV Testing Awareness
In addition to leading the Get Tested Coachella Valley testing and linkage-to-care team, Ralph is a student at Azusa Pacific University, working towards his Bachelors of Science degree in Healthcare Leadership. “I have a good vision of what that looks like and am using my education to provide the framework for that vision and to grow as a leader.”
His vision for the future is direct and clear: provide more community outreach, be in more schools, educate more people and help the Coachella Valley understand the importance of routine HIV testing.
“Sometimes people don’t why they’re getting tested,” he explained. “Knowledge is power, even if you know for sure that you’re negative, going through the experience in case you’re ever in a situation where you don’t know, you’ll know what the process looks and feels like.”
Over the years, Ralph and his team have helped establish a seamless, continuous, and coordinated system that facilitates immediate linkages to care upon HIV diagnosis.
“Each person is a story and we have to help complete that story. They get a diagnosis and we make sure they do the next steps and connect them to the doctors. If we don’t do that, their story is incomplete.”
In June, Ralph and Palm Springs-based cycling team, The Cycledelics will participate in the 2016 AIDS LifeCycle. He’ll be joining over 3,000 cyclists and roadies for a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angels to raise awareness and funds for life-saving services offered by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angles LGBT Center.