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The Voice of the Black Community
Prevention of dread disease with attention to details
Early detection. lifestyle key to health
Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015 11:19 am
by Herbert L. White

Many diseases that disproportionately impact African Americans, such as AIDS, cancer and hypertension, can be prevented through early detection and lifestyle decisions.












Part of a series on The Charlotte Post Foundation’s Black Lives Matter Charlotte initiative. For more information, go to www.blacklivesmattercharlotte.org.

The silent killers are never far behind.

Hypertension, AIDS and cancer are more likely to kill blacks than whites for various reasons. Lifestyle, lack of proactive screening or late diagnosis are culprits in why African Americans are slow to discover and treat dread disease.

Hypertension is an especially worrisome disease. Stress, lack of exercise, poor diet, family history, and obesity are major causes.  Blood pressure increases with age, and if there has been no weight gain or reduction in physical activity, simply getting older can be the cause. Hypertension is called “the silent killer” for good reason. Often, people who have cardiovascular-related illness such as stroke or heart attack either didn’t know they had high blood pressure or realize its seriousness.

AIDS, which has been especially prevalent among African Americans in recent years, is also preventable. Using a condom during sexual intercourse and avoiding dirty needles greatly reduce the risk of transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The virus’ spread has long been associated with urban areas, but those communities – especially in the South – are often shut out of federal funding for prevention programs.

Lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Alma S. Adams (D-N.C) are pushing the federal government to expand the investment for HIV prevention in the South.  They sent a letter last month to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House urging wider funding in rural and suburban areas in nine states.  

“Early diagnosis and increased access to quality medical care, treatment, and ongoing prevention services for those living with HIV is key to addressing the epidemic in the United States,” said Adams, whose district includes Charlotte and Greensboro. “I support the CDC’s efforts to address HIV infection in our most heavily impacted urban areas. However, in North Carolina – Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point are not eligible to access critical HIV prevention resources…. This leaves more than 4,200 people impacted by the disease in those cities behind – and puts many more at risk.”

The letter was also signed by House members James Clyburn of South Carolina and David Price of North Carolina.

According to the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative, in 2011, southern states represented 49 percent of national HIV diagnoses although they account for 37 percent of the country’s population. A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC shows that the nine Deep South states are in the top 25 states with the highest percentage of people with undiagnosed HIV infection.

Charlotte is among 33 cities qualified for the CDC’s High-Impact HIV Prevention funding. Five other Carolinas cities are eligible: Concord, Gastonia, Raleigh, Cary and Columbia, S.C.    

The CDC’s funding announcement PS15-1502: Comprehensive High-Impact HIV Prevention Projects for Community-Based Organizations, is available to community-based organizations in cities with high HIV infection rates. But the initiative restricts eligibility for CBOs not in rural and suburban communities, leaving behind areas impacted by HIV in the Deep South, including 70 percent of those with the virus in South Carolina and 63 percent of those with HIV in North Carolina.

Hypertension can be effectively treated through weight loss, exercise, lowering sodium and alcohol intake, relaxation techniques, herbal therapies and medication. Detecting high blood pressure – especially if is prevalent among relatives – is important to treat the disease.  Despite research and improved treatments, a cancer diagnosis still devastates entire families. Its impact on African Americans is heightened when late diagnosis and lifestyle open the door to the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group for most cancers.

“Although the overall racial disparity in cancer death rates is decreasing, in 2007 the death rate for all cancers combined continued to be 32 percent higher in African American men and 16 percent higher in African American women than in white men and women, respectively,” the ACS reports.

About 168,900 new cancer cases were expected to be diagnosed among blacks in 2011. The most common among African American men are prostate (40 percent), lung (15 percent), and colon and rectum (9 percent). Among black women, the most common cancers are breast (34 percent), lung (13 percent), and colorectal (11 percent).

For example, the relationship between melanin and vitamin D—the nutrient that sunlight provides—may explain why African American, Caribbean, and men of African ancestry have the highest rates of prostate cancer than anyone in the world, according to a 2014 study by Northwestern University researchers. They found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of diagnosis among black men, but not white men. “Our report is the first to describe the association of vitamin D deficiency and outcomes of prostate biopsies in high-risk men with an abnormal [blood test or clinical exam],” the study states. “If vitamin D is involved in prostate cancer initiation or progression, it would provide a modifiable risk factor for primary prevention and secondary prevention to limit progression, especially in the highest risk group of African-American men.”

Among American men, prostate cancer is the most common cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. One in seven American men will develop it in their lifetime. However, black men are 60 percent more likely than whites to be affected, according to the American Cancer Society. Although the mortality rate is among the lowest of all cancers, it is more than twice as high for black men than white men. The incidence is low among Latino and Asian men.

Cancer is the top cause of death for black men age 65-84, according to the CDC.  


I know this is a little late but as a local business owner, I am so happy that this state is progressively advancing. It is so important that everyone is able to get the testing and help that they need, regardless of who they are or their socioeconomic status.

I grew up in Charlotte, have resided in NC for 30+ years and am finally proud to say that we are moving in the right direction. My firm, The Bail Pros, are happy to help support ANY great cause in our wonderful state. Shoot me an email or visit our page at https://yourbailpros.com/nc/concord/ to contact us about how we can help and get involved to join the movement.
Posted on June 22, 2017

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