By Joel Hall
For the first time, the Clayton County Board of Health will officially observe National Women's Health Week, a federal recognition of women's health issues.
Throughout next week, the organization will host a series of seminars and activities, around the county, seeking to address pressing female health concerns in the community. This year, National Women's Health Week will start Sunday, May 9, and continue until Saturday, May 15.
Reproductive Health Coordinator Bridget Mullen, of the Clayton Board of Health, and the organizer of Clayton's Women's Health Week activities, said the events will target adult, as well as teen-health issues. "My goal, when thinking about this, was I wanted to make sure that every woman in Clayton County could be included," Mullen said. "What sparked our interest is that women often put the needs of others in front of their own needs. Basically, we are suffering from some of the greatest health problems, such as heart disease and cancer.
"One in every three women dies from heart disease," she said. "Nearly two-thirds of the women, who die from heart attacks, had no prior symptoms. If we can promote education about women's health care, then we are making a difference in our community."
On Monday, the Board of Health, located at 1117 Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro, will host National Women's Health Checkup Day. From 8:30 a.m., to 5 p.m., the organization will conduct blood-pressure checks, body mass index (BMI) assessments, breast exams, cervical screenings, family planning services, and H1N1 flu vaccinations.
Mullen said many of the services offered during Checkup Day will be free for those who meet certain federal income requirements.
At 6:30 p.m., on Monday, the health board and AID Atlanta will host a free Women and HIV/AIDS Seminar at the Riverdale Branch Library, located at 420 Valley Hill Road. Mullen said the seminar will address treatment and risk factors, particularly for African-American women ages 15-24, a group she said is particularly affected by HIV.
On Tuesday at 5 p.m., dentist Vickie Edwards-Morris will host a discussion on "Periodontal Disease in Women" at the Lovejoy Branch Library, located at 1721 McDonough Road in Lovejoy. According to Mullen, research shows that people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease as those without periodontal disease.
"One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the bloodstream, attaching to fatty plaques in the heart's blood vessels and contributing to heart clot formations," Mullen said."
On Wednesday, Lt. Tina Daniel and Officer India Smith, of the Clayton County Police Department, as well as Clayton State University Psychology Professor J. Celeste Walley-Jean, will host "Real Talk for the Teenage Girl." The round-table discussion will take place at 6:30 p.m., at the Clayton County Adolescent Center, located at 685 Forest Parkway in Forest Park.
According to Smith, the workshop will address the topics of mental health, self-esteem, healthy relationships and the consequences of cyber-bullying and "sexting."
"We have had a couple of cases [of 'sexting'] in the schools, and actually had to bring charges," Smith said. "They [teens] don't realize that if it's a girl is sending a picture of herself to you, and she is [a minor], that is a form of porn. If they are sending pictures of themselves on the phone," she said, "that stuff is going to come back and haunt them. It's [the seminar is] a way to enlighten them."
Registration -- by calling (404) 366-6230 -- is required for Wednesday's event, as space is limited. On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., representatives from the health board and Atlanta Cancer Care will host "Woman to Woman: A Conversation on Women and Their Health," at the Clayton County Headquarters Library, located at 865 Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro. The seminar will address heart disease, breast health, and healthy eating, according to Mullen.
For more information, call (678) 610-7298.