Friday, June 27, 2008

Black Health: Mandatory HIV Testing on Large Black/Latino Populations: Good?

The New York City health department plans to announce on Thursday an ambitious three-year effort to give an H.I.V. test to every adult living in the Bronx, which has a far higher death rate from AIDS than any other borough. The campaign will begin with a push to make the voluntary testing routine in emergency rooms and storefront clinics, where city officials say that cumbersome consent procedures required by state law have deterred doctors from offering the tests.

Skip to next paragraph Enlarge This Image Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Dr. Donna Futterman, left, with Rosita Gonzalez and colleagues at Montefiore Medical Center, helped the city shape the plan.

“Routine would mean if you came into the emergency room for asthma or a broken leg, we test everyone for H.I.V., if they’re willing,” the health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, said in an interview on Wednesday.

While Manhattan has long been the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in New York, with the highest incidence of both AIDS and H.I.V., the virus that causes it, the Bronx, with its poorer population, has far more deaths from the disease. Public health officials attribute this to people not getting tested until it is too late to treat the virus effectively, thus turning a disease that can now be managed with medication into a death sentence.

Several AIDS experts said on Wednesday that the Bronx campaign was the most aggressive testing effort they could recall in the nation. Two years ago, Washington, D.C., made a high-profile push to test 450,000 residents, enlisting celebrity endorsements and distributing 80,000 free testing kits, but the campaign resulted in only about 45,000 people being tested.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ethiopian Food Crisis Reaches Horrific Levels

by Asha Castleberry

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While we are eating our meals everyday, please be aware of how grateful you should be to have that advantage. Unfornately, this is very uncommon in Ethopia.

Today, over 4.6 million Ethopian children are suffering from starvation due to the lack of food, water, and poor health care. Also, an estimate of 1.6 million are affected by the HIV virus. These poor conditions have led a large portion of the population to die from malnutrion. The UN children's agency reported that these children urgently need emergency food aid because starvation will continue to spread from famine and drought. Late seasonal rains have caused dramatic food shortage, which is very critical because 80 percent of the people live off of agricultural consumption. For the past ten years, domestic production has fallen and is affecting 85 percent of all exports.

Poor health conditions have caused dramatic defects in growth. About 47% of Ethiopian children five years of age or younger are moderately to severely underweight, and 52% suffer from stunted growth. The life expentacy rate is 46 years old. (United States is 77 years old).

In 2003, the United Nations launched a food relief program that helped up to 14 million people. At that time, Ethopia experienced one of worst famines in the world. The Ethopian government claimed that they were unable to provide relief to the people but still work to appeal to international donors. Currently, an estimated 300 million in emergency aid is reported to be required to overcome the problem which has now spread to all corners of the country. The UK has also offered 19.5 million in aid.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Black Women & Breast Cancer

In June of 2006, my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Luckily, with the help of God, early detection, and very good doctors, my mother was able to take care of the situation before it became fatal. Throughout the experience, I became very interested in learning about this illness. It seemed so random and I would question how she got it at times, since nobody else in my family had the disease.

Cancer was something that I always heard about, but it seemed like it would never happen to us. This is the mentality of many women today, but the truth is cancer can happen to anybody. Breast Cancer in particular, is very prominent in African-American women.

A statistic has shown that 95 in every 100,000 African American women die of Breast Cancer each year. But also, the age of those infected is slowly getting younger. Now, 31 in every 100,000 African American women that are diagnosed with Breast Cancer are under the age of 40.

Here are 3 ways to prevent yourselves from becoming one of these numbers:

1. Learn about the disease. Just knowing something about Breast Cancer (such as symptoms) can help you satisfy a suspicion if you feel something is not right. There are tons of sites online to choose from. Look at, or read about the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

2. Learn about Breast Self Exams (BSE) and perform routine checks. There are numerous cases of cancer that have been detected early because of women performing self-checks and finding a lump in their breasts.(

3. Attend all annual Mammograms. These appointments are necessary! A lot of mammograms have helped spot breast cancer in a lot of women. Talk to your doctors about when to start attending these, and where to go.

Breast Cancer is not something to brush off. This horrible disease has affected the lives of two of my cousins, an aunt, my mother's best friend, her friend's sister, my neighbor's sister, and four ladies who work with my mother.

I strongly believe that the cure is not too far away. Until then, all African American women should do what we can to protect ourselves.