The College of Nursing at the University of Missouri–St. Louis will host the seventh annual African-American Nursing History Conference 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, February 28 at the J.C. Penney Conference Center on UMSL’s north campus.

This year’s conference’s theme is “Health Disparities: Initiatives that are Bridging the Gap” and will focus on diseases such as cancer (breast, colon, prostate), HIV/AIDS, obesity, mental health, and their impact on the African-American community.

The conference also provides free health screenings.

This conference is intended for nurses and other professionals in the health care field, future nurses, and high school students, according to Vanessa Loyd, director of Professional & Continuing Studies and assistant professor with the College of Nursing at UMSL.

She said it is especially intended for those people in the community who are interested in “Initiatives that are Bridging the Gap” in addressing health care disparities, health care equity and health care promotion.

As a way to increase awareness and decrease the disparities in the community, the conference site will offer free health screenings to the community. Health screenings include weight/height/BMI, blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, glucose, cholesterol, prostate, mental health and mammograms.

Mammograms are by appointment only with Mercy Breast Center Mammography Van from 9 a.m.to 3 p.m. Please call 314-251-5678 and mention the conference to schedule. All other screenings are provided on a walk-in basis.

“Minorities have higher incidences of chronic diseases, higher mortality and poorer health outcomes,” Loyd said.

“To address health care disparities, health care equity and health care promotion, it takes organizational community involvement by increasing awareness and action.”

She said the cancer incidence rate in African Americans is 10 percent higher than that of Caucasians. Additionally, she said, adult African Americans and Latinos have approximately twice the risk as Caucasians of developing diabetes.

“Minorities also have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality,” Loyd said.

Individuals interested in attending the conference must register in advance. The registration fee is $40, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Participants do not need to register and pay a fee to take part in the free health screenings. The fee is only for access to the conference speakers.

To register or for more information visit pcs.umsl.edu/aanhc or call 314- 516-5655.

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