By BTL Staff
KICK The Agency for LGBT African Americans will be hosting Healing Detroit: The Health & Wellness Expo on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hannan House in Detroit. This free, community-wide health and wellness expo will focus specifically on issues of importance to the black community,including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, mental health, domestic violence and smoking cessation.
Dr. Calvin R. Trent, Jr., public policy advocate and former department head of Bureau of Substance Abuse at the Detroit Health Department will serve as honorary chair. “We are excited to have Dr. Trent’s leadership on this important and timely endeavor,” said Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of KICK. He described the expo as unique and said, “Detroit has never had a health fair leading and addressing the needs of its straight and gay population simultaneously.”
The expo will offer health screenings, lectures and activities throughout the day. Scheduled to appear at press time are Pat Baldwin, program and volunteer director of The Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation; Stephanie Carr, belly dance instructor of Mind, Belly and Soul; Terrell Thomas, fitness instructor of The Thomas Group; Matt Sweet, therapist from AIDS Partnership Michigan; and Sean Odom, HIV/AIDS specialist from Michigan AIDS Coalition.
“This is an opportunity for health care providers and other medical/pharmaceutical representatives to present health information, and for the community to take advantage of a variety of screenings,” stressed Victoria B. Edwards, development director. “Healing Detroit is an effort to help identify health care concerns in our community and aid in reducing health care disparities.”
According to the Center of Disease Control, in 2010, the population of African Americans including those of more than one race, was estimated at over 42 million, making up 13.6 percent of the total U.S. population. The five leading causes of death of blacks are heart disease, cancer, stroke, unintentional injuries and diabetes. In addition, Blacks or African Americans have disproportionately high prevalence of hypertension, smoking, obesity, and poor nutrition risk factors.
“The rise of HIV/AIDS infection rates in African-American men is a state of emergency that cannot be overlooked,” said Marlin Colyer, program coordinator at KICK. “We must urgently address these statistics with aggression and tact, starting with a holistic outlook on health and removing the negative stigma surrounding the virus.”
The International AIDS Conference held in Washington this summer, offered stronger evidence supporting that young black men who have sex with men now represent the leading edge of the US HIV epidemic. Overall infection rates among black gay and bi men rival those seen in sub-Saharan African countries. The health disparities between African Americans and other racial groups are striking and are apparent in life expectancy, death rates, infant mortality, and other measures of health status. For example in 2007, the average American could expect to live 77.9 years, while the average African American could only expect to live 73.6 years, compared with 78.4 years for the average White American, according to the Center of Disease Control. A study of black gay and bi men in six U.S. cities found HIV infection rates that were 50 percent higher than among their white counterparts, and HIV infection rates were even higher for men under the age of 30 in the same community.