Special Population’s Student Health Concerns Committee encourages use of health services

By Lisa Chung

Today marks the beginning of the third annual Minority Men’s Health Week started and sponsored by the Special Populations’ Student Health Concerns Committee. The Registered Student Organization is based in McKinley Health Center and will encourage the use of health services among minority men.

“Research has shown that minority men use health services the least,” said Amanda Vlcek, graduate assistant at McKinley Health Center for health education and a member of Special Populations. “We try to promote health and send the message that it’s OK to go to the doctor.”

Starting Monday Feb. 12, and lasting through Thursday, Feb. 15, there will be programs on various health issues at the cultural centers on campus.

Each day will focus on a different health theme geared towards minority men.

On Monday, there will be a “Prostate/Testicular Cancer Program” at the African American Cultural Center, located at the intersection of Mathews Avenue and Nevada Street.

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“Prostate and testicular cancer are recurring problems in minority men,” said Tamara Hoff, graduate assistant at McKinley Health Center for health education, and a member of Special Populations who has organized much of the week. “A lot of people believe that since they are so young, they don’t have to worry about (prostate and testicular cancer).”

Special Populations wants to increase awareness of this cancer because it develops in higher percentages among minority men than in white males.

The prostate and testicular cancer program will present a lecture by medical director and physician at McKinley Health Center, Dr. David Lawrance.

On Tuesday Illini Heartbeats, a student organization that focuses on heart health, will present “Cardiovascular Health Program” at the Asian American Cultural Center, 1210 W. Nevada St.

Ben Goold, president of Illini Heartbeats and junior in LAS, wants to increase cultural competency among minorities to increase the understandings of risks and differences that are inherent in cultural backgrounds. These differences may lead to misconceptions about the statistics of heart disease and health.

“Caucasian males are going to get more statistics geared towards them as opposed to the minority groups,” Goold said.

The presentation will consist of facts and statistics on heart disease among minorities, and will also focus on heart health for the general population.

On Wednesday, Jennifer Carson, health educator for the stress management and wellness at the McKinley Health Center, will present the Valentine’s Day program on “Maintaining Healthy Relationships” at the African American Cultural Center. The presentation hopes to teach participants methods to help continue healthy relationships between friends, family members and significant others.

To come to a close, Minority Men’s Health Week will offer information on sexual health. On Thursday, “Love Hangover: Sexual Health” will be presented at La Casa Cultural Latina, 1203 W. Nevada St. This will be presented by Kimberly Williams, a graduate assistant and teaching assistant for human sexuality.

“This presentation will promote and encourage safe sex while also discussing sexual transmitted infections,” Williams said.

Although in previous years the events have turned out “fairly well,” Hoff would “definitely like to see an increase” in the number of participants. The week is co-sponsored with different student organizations that are affiliated with minority cultures.

“The main goal is to get minority men out to these events so that they can become more educated,” Hoff said, “and begin developing healthier lifestyles.”