By Joel Hall
For the fourth straight year, people in the 13th Congressional District will be able to have themselves screened for several potentially life-threatening illnesses, all without it costing them a penny.
This Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., the annual 13th Congressional District Health Fair will take place at Mundy's Mill High School, located on 9652 Fayetteville Road in Jonesboro.
This year, citizens will be able to participate in more than 20 types of health screenings, including vision, dental, podiatry, osteoporosis, HIV, sickle cell anemia, breast cancer, diabetes, and a new test this year to detect the lead content in blood. In high levels, lead is associated with learning disabilities and lower IQ scores in children.
There will also be demonstrations on healthy cooking and how to properly administer a self breast exam.
Sarah Balog, the event's coordinator, said the state of the economy has generated a lot of interest from both the community and health care providers. This year, more than 50 sponsors will provide screenings or health information.
"The response from the mailing has been overwhelming," said Balog. "A lot of people have been losing their jobs, and for a lot of people, there isn't that safety net anymore.
"Given the situation that the economy is in, we are going to see more attendees than ever before," Balog said.
Last year, more than 1,600 people attended the event.
U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga), whose office has hosted the health fair for the last four years, said this year's will focus particularly on helping women identify HIV and breast cancer, two diseases he said are "direct assaults" on the African-American community.
"Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in African-American women," said Scott. "HIV-AIDS is now the leading cause of death, period, for African-American women of child-bearing age.
"These two diseases, especially, are disproportionately affecting African-American women and there [are] reasons for this," Scott continued. "We have to get beneath those reasons."
Scott said this year, Dr. Rogsbert Phillips, one of the nation's leading breast surgeons and founders of Sisters ... By Choice, Inc., a breast cancer resource center for women, will serve as one of the event's key speakers.
Alfredia Scott, wife of Rep. Scott, and also a survivor of breast cancer, will share her story, and encourage others to remain vigilant about the disease.
"We have a lot of people dying unnecessarily because we're not getting examined and taking the preventives," said Scott. "You don't know what you have until you get checked."
For more information about the health fair, visit www.davidscott.house.gov, or call the Jonesboro office at (770) 210-5073.