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Board of Health focuses on male wellness

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Health is urging men to take their health more seriously, in recognition of National Men's Health Week.

Throughout the week, visitors to the lobby of the Board of Health's offices, at 1117 Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro, will be able to receive useful information about men's health, as well as information on smoking cessation, sexually-transmitted diseases, and other preventable diseases. Jamie Carlington, public information officer for Board of Health programs, said that as traditional family roles are changing, men need to pay more attention to their own health.

"As most people know, women are [traditionally] the primary health-care givers in the family," Carlington said. "With the change of the family structure, men are taking a more proactive role. There are a lot of single fathers as well, so we want to make them more aware of their health issues and the only way to do that is to get out into the community with programs like these."

On Monday, the Board of Health hosted a health fair, as well as a men's health luncheon for Clayton County employees.

Carlington said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that "women were 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for services" than men, and that "men die at higher rates than women from the top-10 causes of death," which include heart disease, cancer, injuries, strokes, AIDS, and suicide.

In addition to Monday's health fair, the Board of Health invited about 50 Clayton County employees to a men-only discussion and luncheon with Dr. Darrell Carmen, a partner with Georgia Urology. During the discussion, Carmen spoke about how erectile dysfunction can be a telling sign of other problems in the body.

"One in five men have some form of erectile dysfunction," Carmen said. "Erectile dysfunction may be a harbinger of a future vascular event ... These men have a higher chance of having a heart attack or stroke in three to five years."

Carmen said that many men tend to put off health care until it is too late, and that information sessions are beneficial, particularly for single men.

"Single men tend to come in with multiple issues that need to be addressed because they tend to kick the can down the road," he said. "Men, overall, do not seek help early in the process. It's just one of those necessary things that need to be done."

Today, the Board of Health will host a presentation on men's health at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center, 2300 Ga. Highway 138, Jonesboro, and today and Thursday, staffers will speak to inmates at the Clayton Transitional Center.

Dr. Alpha Bryan, district health director for the Board of Health, said it is important for the agency to reach minority males, no matter what the setting.

"Research shows that the minority patient has a general distrust in the health care system," Bryan said. "That, in itself, is problematic. We have to do more to bring people into the fold of health care."