Efforts Seek To Prevent Diabetes, Raise HIV Awareness Among Blacks
The following summarizes events that seek to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.
- Georgia: The American Heart Association's "Fit Body and Soul," a faith-based weight-loss initiative in Georgia, which targets overweight and obese blacks, has helped almost half of its participants lose 5% or more of their body weight, and most participants kept the weight off for at least six months. The 12-week program was conducted at Gospel Water Branch Baptist Church, near Augusta, Ga., and sought to prevent diabetes among high-risk church members by focusing on weight loss and behavioral changes. For the program, trained church leaders presented 12 weekly health modules adapted from the NIH-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program. Researchers reported the results of 35 participants of the program at AHA's 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention. NIH recently approved a five-year, $3.7 million grant to expand the program to 20 additional churches, half of which will be a control group (AHA release, 3/10).
- Los Angeles: The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, which partners with local barbershops to offer black men health screenings and education, is now in place at 750 barbershops in 50 cities across 13 states, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bill Releford, a podiatrist, launched the effort to address the issues of blacks having the highest rates of diabetes and heart disease of any racial group and black men being among the least likely group to visit a doctor regularly, according to the Times. The effort is funded with grants from the Abbott Fund. In addition, the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Sciences, where Releford is an associate professor, is helping collect data to compile statistics. To date, the program has screened 1,200 black men in Los Angeles for diabetes and high blood pressure (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 3/12).
- New York City: In recognition of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10, the New York City-based HIV/AIDS group Gay Men's Health Crisis created a display of "racially mixed" dolls on the front steps of City Hall, the New York Times' "City Room" reports. In New York City, 90% of women living with HIV are black or Hispanic, and Hispanics and blacks account for 94% of new HIV infections among teenage girls, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Lee, "City Room," New York Times, 3/11).