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Today, I got word that Dr. Marcella Nunez Smith from Yale University was awarded more than $5 million from the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (National Institute of Health) grant to study the risk factors and prevalence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes in the eastern Caribbean.

This news made me smile. Part of why I am happy about projects such as these is because they are the basis for much health communication and social marketing interventions. We have to understand the risk factors for certain diseases if we are to effectively address them in our community. This is great news for the advancement of public health research across the region! (And at this point, I have to give a nod to Soroya to keep going. Many in my family still don’t understand what I do, but I have to remind myself to keep at it.)

As someone who aspires to be a health communication researcher, I can envision myself working with Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN) started by the grant to address health outcomes across the region. This grant creates a collaboration between Yale University, The University of the Virgin Islands (my alma matter), The University of Puerto Rico and the University of the West Indies. News like these makes me think that ‘oh, I can do a postdoc there’.

Source: Yale Daily Bulletin

 

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The Interdisciplinary Health Communication blog from the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication recently posted a blog about the US’s Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention’s new HIV outreach efforts through comic books (Take That, Evildoers! The CDC Fights HIV With Comics). In an attempt to reach 15- to 24-year-olds with HIV prevention information, the CDC awarded funding to a comic book maker to create digital comics that resonate with that audience. The hope is that such an effort will jump-start more health communication interventions for that age group.

This got me thinking about what innovate projects are being done across the region to reach that age group, since the HIV rate among this age group has been rising.When an organization or government agency plan a communication strategy, do they segment their population, or is the approach more of general HIV prevention information? If money was of no concern, what would you like to see being done to reach youths with HIV/STD behavior change information?

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A few months ago, I wrote about the higher than normal breast cancer rates among Caribbean women. Earlier this month, news broke that Dr. Judith Hurley (University of Miami), who led the previous study, received a $600,000 grant from the Susan G. Comen Foundation to study the genetic characteristics of breast cancer in women in the region. The study will check for the rates of BRCA1 and BRCA2 among women in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago. A previous study in Bahamas found that 23% of women with breast cancer had the genes.

“If you can begin to get ideas on how to deal with breast cancer in the African Caribbean group, maybe that window can be opened larger and you can start exporting that information to African American women,” said Hurley.

This is good news for women across the region, as well as for Caribbean and Black women everywhere.

Source: Barbados’ Nation News