Pampering the brothers

Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 3:59 p.m.
Adistinguished panel of health experts gathered at the Alachua County Health Department's auditorium to discuss the overall health of black men.
As a part of King Week 2007, the "Pampering the Brothers" health forum was held Jan. 18 to share health information with local residents and to answer questions. Panelists represented all aspects of health from the spiritual realm to the financial realm.
The forum was moderated by Dr. Mardell Coleman, a clinical psychologist who works at Santa Fe Community College, who opened the forum by saying it is important for black men to get a handle on stress.
"Stress is directly related to our disproportionate number of health issues," Coleman said.
Joe Richardson spoke about financial health and its importance.
"We must begin to get a better handle on our finances from the beginning to the end," Richardson said. "Financial training and money management is important."
Richardson harped on Coleman's point about stress reduction as it relates to financial health.
"If bill collectors are calling your house, that is stress," Richardson said. "You need a check-up if you are living paycheck to paycheck. You need some form of a budget. If you don't, you are planning to fail."
Richardson said it is important to talk to a professional, and that it is even more important to resolve tax problems promptly.
"You have to have a budget," he said.
Johnny Lloyd, a tuberculosis program consultant, talked about the rise in the incidence of tuberculosis in the black male population.
"Tuberculosis is starting to increase in our community," Lloyd said. "Tuberculosis is an opportunistic disease."
Lloyd said only 10 percent of people who are infected with tuberculosis graduate to disease status. He said the best way to treat tuberculosis is to get tested for it regularly.
"It is a silent killer, but it can be cured," Lloyd said. "There is no reason for anyone to die from tuberculosis."
Teresa Parker, this area's regional minority AIDS coordinator, spoke about who she believes will be the next group hit hard by the AIDS/HIV epidemic.
She said the community is going to have to come up with creative ways to get the message across to minority teenagers that AIDS is real.
"I will tell you that these teenagers today are going to be the next wave of people dying from AIDS," she said. "When I talk to them, and they don't know what abstinence is, that is a problem," Parker said. "We must talk to our children."
She said abstinence is the best way for teens to avoid getting infected with AIDS, but added that a discussion about safe sex should be ongoing in the home.
"When do we get to the point of talking about safety," Parker asked. "When are we going to get to the point where we talk to our kids about safe sex. The longer we keep silent, the more this generation will suffer."
The Rev. Kevin Thorpe, pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, who was the panel's spiritual health expert, talked briefly about the decline of the black man in the home.
He said that in the old days, black homes were more stable than they are today because "it was constant supervision in the home. Daddy made enough money for mother to stay home."
He said their is a flawed system of parenting that exist today.
"We stopped doing what worked, and started doing what was popular," Thorpe said. "We need to make an investment in our young black men for the sole purpose of showing them there is a different way. We must reach people where they are.
"People don't care what you know until they know you care."
The forum was sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.

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