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Mautner Project begins health program for African-American lesbians

By | 2004-02-12T09:00:00-05:00 February 12th, 2004|Uncategorized|

WASHINGTON, DC – The Mautner Project for Lesbian Health has announced the first ever national health education program focused on African-American women who partner with women. Led by Mautner Project’s Deputy Director, Cheryl Pearson-Fields, MPH, the Spirit Health Education Circle (SHE-Circle) will draw on its partnerships with national and community-based organizations.
“For Black lesbians, the confluence of race, gender, and sexual orientation can create powerful barriers to accessing quality healthcare and attaining a healthy lifestyle,” said Pearson-Fields. “By coming together in community, SHE-Circle participants will share information, resources and the mutual support necessary to break down these barriers and make healthier lifestyle choices.”
Funded in part by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the initial SHE-Circle program will consist of 6 Circle sessions on the following topics: breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening, smoking cessation, nutrition and exercise and coming out to your physician. Health education videos on each topic area and a corresponding discussion guide, health brochures targeting this community, a resource guide and a wellness website will comprise the program components. After testing and evaluation, replication packages will be prepared to facilitate dissemination of the program across the country.
“Because we are black, female and gay, African-American lesbians can face triple jeopardy in terms of mortality and morbidity from cancer, heart disease and other illnesses,” said Pearson-Fields. Serious differences in access to and quality of healthcare for women and black Americans are highlighted in The National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report issued this month by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ blueprint for the nation’s health, Healthy People 2010 includes sexual orientation as a marker of health disparities. The Institute of Medicine Report on Lesbian Health does a thorough job of documenting the barriers and health disparities that keep lesbians from receiving proper breast health education, screening and treatment.
Founded in 1990, the Mautner Project is the national lesbian health organization. Its mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of women who partner with women and their families through direct services, research, education and advocacy. For more information about the SHE Circle or interviews with Pearson-Fields, please call 202-332-5536 or email agaston@mautnerproject.org.

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