Health Needs of Men of Color

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Addressing the Health Needs of Men of Color

 Although men play a vital role in the health and well being of families and children, overall, little attention has been given to the health of men. Not only are men less likely than women to receive preventive health services, and have a regular doctor or source of care, but men are also less likely to have health insurance. This lack of attention to the health care needs of men and expectant fathers is during the preconception, prenatal, and perinatal periods as practitioners and health care providers focus on providing maternal care, thus usually missing opportunities to engage men and expectant fathers for improving their health.
Health Power plans a special focus on improving the health of men of color by:

(a) Helping to increase health awareness and health literacy among men and their families;
(b) Promoting, advocating for, motivating, and providing tools to help men of color and their families achieve and maintain good health; and
(c) Getting them to increase their priority on disease prevention, early detection and control.

Diseases of Special Focus include:

Prostate Cancer – Occurs in more African American men than any other group of men in the U.S. although there are easy screening tests for early diagnosis and treatment. There are also common signs and symptoms (signals) of prostate cancer that can lead to early diagnosis and treatment, when the chance of cure, or control, is good.  Regular screening for prostate cancer is very important because the symptoms of prostate cancer and enlarged prostate often overlap, and the diseases require very different treatment to achieve the best possible results.

Enlarged Prostate – As just mentioned, men often develop the same symptoms for enlarged prostate, and prostate cancer. Therefore, men of color – and their spouses or partners – need to know what these symptoms are.  It’s important that their spouses or partners also be informed because sometimes they notice changes in patterns of urination, etc. that the affected men either haven’t noticed, or deny that they exist.  It is always important that men with symptoms of an enlarged prostate see a doctor without delay because with an early diagnosis, there’s good treatment for both conditions.  More detailed information on both conditions is provided in our Men’s Health Channel.

Erectile Dysfunction – Sometimes called impotence, erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is often unable to achieve and sustain an erection that’s adequate for sexual intercourse.  Men often don’t want to discuss issues related to sexual function, although if they did so, they would find that many such problems can be effectively treated.  Erectile dysfunction is different from having problems related to ejaculation, orgasm or sexual desire.

Common causes of erectile dysfunction include:  atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), nerve disorders, stress, depression, performance anxiety, injury of the penis, and certain medications.  Some of these conditions may be associated with excess alcohol intake (more than three drinks a day), which is one of multiple reasons for limiting alcohol intake.  More information about erectile dysfunction is also available in our Men’s Health Channel.

HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) – HIV/AIDS, which is preventable, occurs now in more African Americans than any other group in the US, and the group with the second highest incidence is Hispanics. HIV is also basically preventable today in newborn babies of women with HIV/AIDS, provided the mother receives proper treatment during her pregnancy.  Women, and men who have sex with men, must become well informed about the Down Low – if they are not already informed, and they must also decide how to protect themselves and their spouses or partners.  Men of color and their sexual partners need to also be well informed about other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including their prevention, early diagnosis and treatment.

 Lung Cancer – is almost always a result of smoking.  Other diseases that result from smoking include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  It must be known that because many minorities prefer menthol cigarettes, they are heavily advertised in minority communities.  Smoking cessation (Quit Smoking) choices, including Pathways to Freedom – an approach that was especially developed  for African Americans.  Also, 5 Health Power Quit Smoking and Win Tip Sheets can be found by clicking here.

, an anxiety disorder.  While the media and many military families focus on military trauma (major injury) as the cause of PTSD, it can also be caused by those who witness or experience other major traumatic, or violent, events such as rape, child abuse, homicide and other street violence, and natural disasters.  Therefore, people of color who live in low income communities, which have higher rates of violence, are more likely to develop PTSD.  More information on PTSD is provided in our Mental Health Channel.

 – Men of color and their family members and friends need increased health awareness not only for themselves, but to also be good health advocates and supporters – about: diabetes, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, preconception health and planning, alcohol abuse and alcoholism, depression, stress, and more. They need to know about the risk factors associated with each of these common conditions including family history, screening tests for early detection, treatment possibilities, and how to control or cure them.

If men of color and those who love them are well informed, empowered, and encouraged about their health, we as a society will be taking a critical step toward building healthier families and communities, and not just for communities of color, but for society as a whole.