Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program Comes to Bay Area

Dr. Bill J. Releford, D.P.M.

San Francisco and Oakland barbershops have joined forces with the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program (BBHOP) to conduct diabetes and high blood pressure screenings 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. Participating barbershops will provide a place for volunteers to educate, screen and refer African American patrons, encouraging them to become more aware of cardiovascular diseases and how to prevent them. Shelly Tatum, founder of “Shelly Tatum Presents,” has been at the helm of Bay Area efforts. He has mobilized dozens of volunteers and secured a multitude of corporate and online media partners to further promote the programs call to action. The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program has a grassroots approach to health screening and education. Led by Dr. Bill J. Releford, D.P.M., founder of  The Diabetic Amputation Prevention (DAP) Foundation, his leadership has taken the Black Barbershop initiative across the country. “The need to address health care disparities in African American men is paramount in light of the fact that they have the lowest life expectancy of any group in the U.S.,” said Dr. Releford, a podiatric surgeon. “For decades, the Black barbershop has served as a centralized gathering place where African American men feel comfortable discussing the most important issues that impact their lives: politics, social trends, family and finances.  Now, we are introducing an important discussion of health and the critical need for health awareness.” Recent figures show African American men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than white men. Also, African American men suffer from prostrate cancer at a level that’s more than twice the mortality rate for any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S.. Over 30,000 African American men have been screened in 23 cities since 2007 when the outreach program was launched. The ultimate goal by 2014 is to screen more than a half-million African American men. State-wide partners of the BBHOP include Anthem Blue Cross and Medtronics, leaders in the health care industry. For a complete list of barbershops involved, go to www.BlackBarbershop.org.
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