D.C. ‘Ground Zero’ for Kidney Disease

American Kidney Fund Steps Up to Help

Courtesy of the National Kidney Foundation

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) wants to change the District of Columbia’s reputation as “ground zero” for kidney disease with a new initiative.

Through the Know Your Kidneys DC program announced last month, AFK will target neighborhoods in the District with some of the highest rates of kidney failure — along with diabetes and high blood pressure in the country.

“The nation’s capital is a perfect storm of risk factors for kidney disease, creating an enormous public health challenge and placing a very serious physical and financial burden on those who develop kidney failure,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund.

African-Americans are three times more likely to develop end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure as whites, and Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics, according to the AFK.

Five of the eight D.C. wards have populations that are majority people of color, and Wards 7 and 8 are almost entirely African-American and Hispanic.

Wards 7 and 8 also have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes in the District, which AFK said matters immensely because diabetes is responsible for nearly half of all cases of kidney failure.

“Though any health screening program can have a positive effect on those who participate, we’ve designed Know Your Kidneys DC to go much farther,” the organization said. “We want D.C. residents at risk for kidney disease to know we have their backs — that we’ll stay in touch with them, following up, to help motivate them to stay on track to better health.”

AKF has also forged partnerships with the United Planning Organization (UPO) and Men’s Health Network to help plan and deliver its health screening and kidney health education programs.

The organizations plan to provide free health screenings to 2,000 at-risk D.C. residents this year.

“UPO’s partnership with AKF is about aiding individuals and families in their quest for better health management and to live high quality, productive lives and to thrive,” said Andrea Thomas, UPO executive vice president.

A highlight of the Know Your Kidneys DC program will be Kidney Action Day, AKF’s signature outreach event, on Saturday, Sept. 9 at The Yards Park in D.C.’s Capitol Riverfront.

“Awareness and education is key in preventing kidney disease — particularly in men,” said Ana Fadich, vice president of Men’s Health Network. “As an organization, Men’s Health Network is a strong believer in preventive screenings and this is particularly true for residents in Washington, D.C., where the death rate among men outpaces the national average.”

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