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Men's Health Month Focuses on Prevention

African-American Males Face Various Challenges

Stacy M. Brown | 6/18/2014, 3 p.m.
Many men typically notice when their automobiles don't perform properly, but they rarely listen when their bodies tell them that ...
The goal of Men's Health Month centers on methods to heighten the public's awareness of the many preventable illnesses affecting men, young and old. (Courtesy photo)

Many men typically notice when their automobiles don’t perform properly, but they rarely listen when their bodies tell them that it’s time to visit a doctor.

That observation from a local physician remains an important theme of Men’s Health Month, which takes place in June each year with a goal that all males carefully examine their bodies and stay healthy.

“Men’s Health Month is a call to action for all men and their families to take ownership of their health and well-being,” said Dr. Salvatore Giorgianni, a science advisor to the Men’s Health Network in Northeast.

“All dads out there [should know] how much their family needs them, and how important it is for them to take care of themselves,” Giorgianni said.

While the Men’s Health Network (MHN) has planned several activities in Washington, D.C., throughout the month, officials at the National Black Men’s Health Network in Atlanta said it’s also a time to reflect on issues affecting African-American males.

They said the death rate from cancer among African-American men remains twice that of white males and the mortality rate for black men as a whole ranks higher than any ethnic group.

“The average black man barely lives long enough to collect his Social Security,” said Dr. Jean J.E. Bonhomme, founder of the National Black Men’s Health Network.

HIV/AIDS remains among the most pressing health issue facing black males in Washington, D.C., but despite those concerns there are alarming disparities that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, said officials who are shining a spotlight on prevention as a key strategy for achieving health equity.

“Failure to address the health challenges facing minorities diminishes the health of the nation as a whole,” said Bonhomme, 63, who also serves on the board of directors for the MHN. “The U.S. has one of the most expensive health care systems in the world, yet our life expectancies, infant mortality rates and other health care outcomes are often middle of the road at best. This situation exists in large measure because many of our advanced and effective health care interventions are not reaching minorities.”

Equally important, Bonhomme said studying minorities who suffer the highest known rates of many life limiting conditions provides unique opportunities to identify real causes and effective prevention of disease. He said increased attention to minority health could be a significant benefit to everyone.

“We have numerous problems when it comes to health care and health insurance,” said Ian Franklin, a retired postal worker who lives in Northeast.

“Finding the right doctor, getting to the doctor and having enough money to pay our premiums and even our co-pays present problems for us at times,” said Franklin 67. “So, it becomes easy for us as black men to not pay attention to the slightest ache or the smallest [pain]. We just don’t have the time, energy or resources.”

Officials said the goal of Men’s Health Month continues to center on methods to heighten the public’s awareness of the many preventable illnesses affecting men, young and old.