This year Indiana Black and Minority Health Fair coincided with two other events in Indianapolis: the Black Expo summer celebrations and the centennial of historically black sorority Sigma Gamma Rho. As thousands of Hoosiers and out-of-state visitors flocked downtown to catch Patti LaBelle’s free concert, some also took the opportunity to head to the health fair for a checkup. free health.
John Lee, a retired Hoosier, said it was his first time at the Black Expo and health fair since the coronavirus pandemic. He took the time to stop at the many stalls that lined the room.
“I did blood tests,” Lee said, carrying a stack of papers showing her lab results. “So prostate screening, blood sugar, cholesterol, PSA, sickle cell, the whole thing. I mean, why not?
He said these free tests help him stay on top of his health without the burden of multiple doctor visits and medical bills. There’s also the sense of pride he feels when he attends black community events like Expo and Health Fair.
“I’m all about supporting black events like these,” Lee said.
Organizers said the fair offered nearly $2,500 in free health services per attendee, including blood tests, breast cancer screening, and dental and eye exams.
Addressing Health Care Disparities
Black Americans are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured than white Americans. A recent study published in JAMA Network Open examined a population of Medicare-covered patients and found that primary care physicians are less likely to refer black patients to specialists than white patients. This means black patients are less likely to receive specialist care when they need it.
Although events that offer free health care, like the Black and Minority Health Fair, are not a lasting solution to some of the longstanding racial disparities in access to health care, Linda Evans, 65, said she believed these events helped fill the void.
“The Health Fair is just awesome,” Evans said. “I have indeed [a] first aid [doctor], but for people who don’t and don’t see doctors, you can get all that information and you can do lab work. You are able to know everything about your health so this is just great.
Evans said she’s been coming to Black Expo for 51 years and attending the health fair for more than three decades.
Apart from health examinations, the fair also offered wellness services like massages.
“One lady had tears in her eyes,” said massage therapist Jamal, owner of Lamaj Salon and Spa. “People love it. Especially if they’ve never had it before. They don’t realize part of the pain in their body until someone else touches it.
Across the convention hall, Curtis Gray stood at a booth to speak to visitors about the help available for families affected by the trauma of gun violence. Gray, a victims’ advocate at Eskenazi Health, handed out a free nasal spray of naloxone — a drug to help reverse opioid overdoses.
“We have a high rate of overdoses in the city from fentanyl. And those can potentially save a life,” Gary said.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that black patients with substance use disorders are less likely to have access to naloxone and less likely to have training in how to use it . The study revealed that Black Overdose Deaths Begin To Surpass Overdose deaths among whites for the first time in nearly 20 years, and that the rate of opioid deaths among blacks increased by 38% between 2018 and 2019.
Outreach and Recruitment for Research Studies
Several other booths were occupied by researchers seeking to recruit people of African descent for ongoing studies. A Boston team Dana Farber Cancer Institute attended the fair to offer free multiple myeloma screenings and recruit patients to examine why people of African descent are nearly three times more likely to develop blood cancer.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity for us to talk about our study, but also to raise awareness about myeloma, because even though it is the second most common form of blood cancer, it is not is not well known,” said Maya Davis, a clinical researcher. coordinator at Dana Farber.
“Often people are diagnosed when it’s too late to treat. And so we want people to know the symptoms early so people can get tested and get care before it’s too late.
The show also included educational panels on a range of topics such as mental health, youth suicide, substance use disorders, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, self-defense patients and the diversity of research studies.
This is the 36th year of the Indiana Black and Minority Health Fair. The annual event is hosted by the Indiana State Department of Health.
This story comes from a reporting collaboration that includes the Indianapolis Recorder and Public media on side effects, a public health information initiative based at WFYI. Contact Farah at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter: @Farah_Yousrym.