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Augusta Chronicle

Health Fair Focuses On Latino Women

By Patrick Verel, Staff Writer

5 April 2005
Copyright © 2005 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

If you're a Latina and get cervical cancer, you're more likely to die than a woman who is white. That's just one of many messages Venus Gimes wants to get across to the public.

At a luncheon Monday at the Richmond County Health Department, a dozen health care professionals listened to Mrs. Gines, the CEO and founder of Lawrenceville, Ga.-based Dia de la Mujer Latina Inc., talk about the challenges of serving the Augusta Latina population.

The group, which translates to Day of the Latin American Wo-man, promotes health awareness in the Latino community through culturally specific health fairs.

In Augusta, the first Fiesta de la Salud is set for Saturday, May 7.

Mrs. Gines founded the group in 1997 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and found the amount of medical information written in Spanish wanting. The group has since added blood pressure, cholesterol, vision and diabetes screenings to accommodate the growing Latino population in Georgia.

"Most of the research from the '70s and '80s found that Latinas tended to be passive and shy about their bodies," Mrs. Gines said. "What we've found is they want to know more about their bodies and the health of their families."

Language is a barrier for many Hispanics looking for health information, but Mrs. Gines said there are also cultural differences among natives of the 22 countries that make up the demographic. For instance, in Puerto Rico from 1939 to 1964, many women agreed to have their fallopian tubes tied without realizing it was a permanent decision.

"So women taught us, don't trust doctors, they're going to use us as guinea pigs," she said.

Beatriz-Rosa Orta-Fowler, a licensed practical nurse and case manager with SOURCE Care Management in Augusta, agreed there is a need for more Spanish medical literature.

"You have the translations in the health department, but if you're in the country illegally, you're going to be afraid of government places," she said.

Local organizer Nancy Kappus Schear, a nurse practitioner at the Medical College of Georgia's Center for Community Health, said growing up in South America gave her a unique appreciation for Latinos in the Augusta community.

"I have a lot of sympathy for people who sometimes feel like strangers here," she said.


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