Fair puts health in focus

More than 25 local and national organizations set up booths displaying a variety of health information at the Florida A&M Health Fair.

Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s Diabetes Center in association with FAMU’s Student Health Services gave out information about Diabetes type 1 and 2.

“A lot of students have family members with diabetes, so they are at a higher risk for developing it,” said Adela Mitchell, a registered nurse at the TMH Diabetes Center.  “That is why it is important to get information early, because once you have it, it’s too late.”

The Leon County Health Department (LCHD) has a Healthy Start program designed for expectant mothers and mothers of newborns through the age of three.

Shaena Wan, the Healthy Start care coordinator, said they provide support through the motherhood process, childbirth education and provide information on birth control. If eligible, anyone can enroll in many of these programs at no cost.

South East Eye Specialists in Tallahassee’s booth gave free vision screenings and the Leon County Mobile Health Unit was on site providing free HIV/AIDS, STD, blood pressure testing and glucose testing.

“The HIV test is a quick test that gives results in around 15 minutes,” Christopher Douglas, FAMU alumnus and the disease intervention specialist on the Mobile Health Unit said. “It’s been around two years and is a finger prick test that picks up on all antibodies in the blood.”

The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority teamed up with FAMU and the Department of Health to throw this annual event. Sheryl Underwood, is the 23rd international president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and a well-known comedian from Laffapalooza! and BET’s Comic View, 

Underwood participated and got her blood pressure tested on the LCHD mobile bus.

“Underwood emphasizes health justice for the African-American community and hopes this empowers students to live the best quality of life possible,” said Audreen Robinson, 22, a fifth-year MBA student from Ft. Lauderdale.

Underwood was a participant in a health forum that consisted of a panel of physicians, counselors and representatives from the Department of Health and the March of Dimes.

Topics highlighted at the forum were HIV/AIDS and STD prevention in black communities, low birth weight in babies and mental health issues.

The Centers for Disease Control said blacks make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, but 49 percent of people who contracted HIV/AIDS in 2005 were black.

The FAMU Nursing program gave free blood pressure screenings at their booth outside of the nursing building.

“Believe it or not, young, normal weight people find they have high blood pressure,” said Janet Marshall, a registered nurse and assistant professor at FAMU’s School of Nursing.

“There are no symptoms; it’s the silent killer. That is why you have to get checked…many of these screenings are free.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said blacks are most likely to develop high blood pressure than any other ethnic or racial group.