Efforts Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness Among Blacks, Encourage Black Students To Pursue Health Careers, Address Infant Mortality Disparity
- Miami: The third annual "Women Empowered -- Responding To Serve Valued People" health forum was held last week, the Miami Herald reports. The forum aimed to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among blacks in the area. Speaking for the panel were Juan Riacos of Abbott Laboratories -- who presented information on the company's partnership with the Magic Johnson Foundation "I Stand With Magic" program -- and Alesia Miller -- senior project specialist with the not-for-profit Care Resource and a community activist, who gave testimonial about being HIV-positive. Deborah Holmes, a physician affiliated with Mt. Sinai Medical Center, was the keynote speaker and presented statistics on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the black community (Miami Herald, 4/6).
- Sickle cell disease: The Miami-Dade Chapter of the Sickle Cell Association of America on Saturday will hold its 29th annual Sickle Cell Walk to help raise money for research, the Miami Herald reports. According to CDC data, one in 500 blacks and one in 1,000 to 1,400 Hispanics has the disease. Local researchers contend that the number is higher because some people are unaware that they have the disease. Local organizers "hope through fundraisers and data collection projects to find a cure, and in the short term, raise awareness so more people can get tested and, if affected, get treated," according to the Herald (Robinson, Miami Herald, 4/11).
- South Carolina: The Second Annual Thaddeus John Bell Scholarship Endowment Gala will be held this week to raise money for the award, which is a part of the "Closing the Gap in Health Care" initiative, the Charleston Post and Courier reports. The scholarship provides financial assistance to eligible black students seeking to attend the Medical University of South Carolina and practice medicine in the state. The health initiative seeks to encourage more black students to work in health care to improve health outcomes for blacks, according to the Post and Courier (Parker, Charleston Post and Courier, 4/7).
- Tennessee: Tennessee health officials, as well as national and local leaders and activists, met at Fisk University on Wednesday to discuss ways to address the state's black-white infant mortality gap, the Tennessean reports. The infant mortality rate for blacks in Tennessee was 16.8 per 1,000 births in 2006, compared with 6.6 per 1,000 live births for whites in the state, according to the Tennessean. Garth Graham, HHS' deputy assistant secretary for minority health; Betty Taylor, the 2007 March of Dimes ambassador; and Tonya Lee, spokesperson for a national campaign to reduce the black infant mortality rate and wife of filmmaker Spike Lee; discussed the issues. Davidson County officials also met with the group to discuss awareness efforts (Ross, Tennessean, 4/10).
- Tallahassee, Fla.: As part of its We Make the Change campaign, the Florida Department of Health Bureau of HIV/AIDS is using text messaging to encourage residents to be tested for HIV, the Westside Gazette reports. The campaign was launched in 1999 to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among minority populations. For the new effort, residents can text their ZIP code to a number and receive information on the nearest testing facility (Westside Gazette, 4/9).