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Injectable Birth Control Raises HIV Risk for African Women

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Recent studies suggest that African women face greater risk of HIV infection upon using an injectable birth control, a hormone shot known as Depo-Provera. The shot provides an opportunity to discreetly avoid pregnancy for a period of about three months. Due to societal pressures from both families and partners desiring children, most African men refuse to use condoms.

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By Olivia Boyd, WI Intern

Recent studies suggest that African women face greater risk of HIV infection upon using an injectable birth control, a hormone shot known as Depo-Provera.

The shot provides an opportunity to discreetly avoid pregnancy for a period of about three months. Due to societal pressures from both families and partners desiring children, most African men refuse to use condoms.

These shots are quite popular in areas where HIV is prevalent and, in some cases, is the only form of contraception available for women as opposed to other options like intrauterine devices, also known as IUDs or the pill.

A recent study, Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes, involved 7.800 women in four African countries (South Africa, Kenya, Zambia and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), presented relieving results for health care providers showing that while Depo-Provera appeared to have minimally higher risk of HIV infection than other forms of contraception.

However, the results were not significant enough to prove that the birth-control shots method is completely dangerous or should be stopped completely.

The study has proved controversial with concerns that it would instead cause more harm than good as more women could possibly become infected with the HIV virus. It compared infections rates among the women over an 18-month period. Each woman was required to use one of the three most modern forms of birth control during that time. While the study was deemed well executed and the study quite helpful in its results, physicians remain concerned about opting for birth control shots over much safer options.

In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Lauren Ralph, an epidemiologist at the University of California, said she hoped the debate would continue and not be quickly settled in favor injectable hormones.

The World Health Organization plans to review the studies within the next month and decide whether or not to promote the use of injectable hormones as the top-rated safest contraception, a rating that other more traditional forms of contraception currently hold.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.

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Activism

Advocates Pressure Gov. Newsom to Fund Health Equity, Racial Justice in Final Budget

“Our state boasts a staggering $97 billion budget surplus,” said Ron Coleman, managing director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “If not now, when? Given the devastating impact of racism on the health and well-being of Californians of color it’s a travesty of the highest order that racial justice isn’t even mentioned in the Governor’s budget proposal,”

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Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund.
Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

On June 8, community leaders, public health advocates and racial justice groups convened for a virtual press event to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to support the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund (HERJ Fund).

The initiative supports community-based organizations addressing the underlying social, environmental and economic factors that limit people’s opportunities to be healthy — such as poverty, violence and trauma, environmental hazards, and access to affordable housing and healthy food. Health advocates would also address longstanding California problems related to health equity and racial justice problems.

The fund cleared a significant hurdle last week when the state Legislature included $75 million in their joint budget proposal. This means both the Assembly and Senate support the HERJ Fund and they will go into negotiations with the governor to seek his support to approve it.

“Our state boasts a staggering $97 billion budget surplus,” said Ron Coleman, managing director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “If not now, when? Given the devastating impact of racism on the health and well-being of Californians of color it’s a travesty of the highest order that racial justice isn’t even mentioned in the Governor’s budget proposal,”

Last Wednesday’s virtual community meeting and press event capped off a series of rallies held by supporters in cities across the state calling on Newsom to make room in his budget for the HERJ Fund.

Coleman facilitated the online event featuring representatives from service organizations speaking about their support for the fund and presenting plans for how the money would be used to support their shared mission of providing services to minority and underserved communities in California.

Jenedra Sykes, a partner at Arboreta Group, spoke about inequalities that exist in funding for smaller grassroots nonprofits and how traditionally larger, white-led nonprofits use state funds to subcontract with grassroots nonprofits to provide services to communities of color at lower costs.

“The faith-based non-profits on the ground have the relationships, the access to those who are most vulnerable and marginalized among us who disproportionately have poorer health outcomes,” said Sykes. “This bill also evens the playing field a bit. Instead of going through the middleman of the established larger non-profits, funding will go directly to the people who are doing the work. The passion, the heart, the skills, the talents are there. It’s about the resources to fund these talents”

Coleman gave attendees an update on the status of the HERJ Fund’s path to inclusion in the state budget.

Now that the state Legislature has included the fund in their spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2022-23 (it was not included in Newsom’s “May Revise”), it must survive negotiations with the governor’s office before the June 15 deadline to finalize the budget.

A final budget needs to be in place by June 30, the last day for the governor to approve.

HERJ Fund supporters remain hopeful that funding for their program will be included in the final budget.

Updated mechanisms about the budget were added to the HERJ Fund’s proposal to alleviate those concerns and supporters of the fund believe that Newsom is out of excuses.

“Our best shot at getting the HERJ Fund in the budget is now. We are hoping that all of you will keep the pressure on the governor to ensure that this becomes a reality,” Coleman said. “If he does care about the intersections of health equity and racial justice then we will see funding.”

Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund. You can visit herjfund.org to learn more about the proposal and the effort to include it in the state budget.

Nadia Kean-Ayub, executive director of Rainbow Spaces, shared details about the valuable events and services community-based non-profits provide. She said there is no shortage of families in need who want to participate in their organizations’ programs but, due to limited funding for transportation, many people never access services meant to help them.

“This tells me that when things are created in our communities, they are not making the impact we need in our Black, Brown and API communities,” Kean-Ayub said. “I will continue to fight. To really make this grow, we need the state to understand that the true impact comes from the community and the people who are living these issues and who know how to help them.”

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Activism

Youth Uprising Approaches Mental Wellness with Fun, Education and Job Opportunity

Youth Uprising offers education support, job readiness, counseling for healing and health: holistic wellness, physical health, sports and recreation, free style music classes, video and film production, dance, performing and visual arts. Classes are from 3:30 -5:00 and is open to all youth.

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Youth Uprising CEO Y’anad Burrell. Photo courtesy of Y’anad Burrell.
Youth Uprising CEO Y’anad Burrell. Photo courtesy of Y’anad Burrell.

Black Mental Health: Part 8

By Tanya Dennis

Youth Uprising provides comprehensive, fully integrated health, wellness, educational, career, arts, and cultural programming to Alameda County youth and young adults, ages 13-24. Located at 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in East Oakland. Youth Uprising has taken a mind, body, spirit approach to mental wellness.

Y’Anad Burrell, CEO of Youth Uprising, says that “It was essential we offered a mental wellness program at Youth Uprising because we saw the unfortunate outcomes of social isolation and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and we wanted to broaden our programs to not always think of wellness as a room and counseling, but instead think of how we could incorporate wellness in our everyday life dance.

“We have full-time clinicians but elevate the narrative of wellness that is interactive and fun. We check in with our youth on how they are adapting to this new social structure created by COVID-19,” she said.

Mental health clinicians Tamikia McCoy and Rica Rice offer services Monday thru Friday. For service contact Tamikia McCoy at – tmccoy@youthuprising.org

Youth Uprising offers education support, job readiness, counseling for healing and health: holistic wellness, physical health, sports and recreation, free style music classes, video and film production, dance, performing and visual arts. Classes are from 3:30 -5:00 and is open to all youth.

Currently Youth Uprising’s “Wing Wednesdays” is held at their Café, but there are plans for “pop-ups” and “A Taste of Oakland,” student event in August where 10 to 15 students will showcase their food.

Burrell says that “A Taste of Oakland” is providing an opportunity for learning the elements of the culinary industry in classes teaching cooking and the business side of the café. Each station in the café will have an adult teacher to guide them on how to serve, how to greet the customer, work the cash register weekly, cleaning and sanitizing the café, and understanding the elements of being a chef.”

Burrell is especially proud of Youth Uprising’s Delinquency Prevention Network (DPN) conducted by Javion Robertson. DPN is a job readiness program training up to 20 youth reduced from 50 due to COVID safety.

Every 90 days students are taught communications, public speaking, resume writing, time management, professional dress, workplace employer relations and prepare youth before they are placed.

DPN is Youth Uprisings most popular and well attended program and is conducted Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m.. To enroll contact Javion Robertson at jrobertson@youthuprising.org

Burrell noted that, “Youth Uprising belongs to our community and our youth, so we deliver on our original purpose and design. Our goal is to develop youth into leaders, and that they leave aware of how the system impacts them and are prepared.

“Our mission statement is “We believe that if we provide youth with relevant services and programs, meaningful engagement with caring adults, and opportunities to practice leadership they will become change agents and contributors to a healthy thriving community. This formula for change maintains that healthy, involved people can influence policy and ultimately create healthier, safer, and economically robust communities. It recognizes that youth are inherently resilient, and that risk can be reduced with the right set of supports, services, and opportunities.”

For more information contact Danielle Parker, Youth Uprising’s Executive Assistant dparker@youthuprising.org or call 510-777-9909.

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Activism

Project Hosts Virtual Workshop for African American Families Caring for Mentally Ill, Substance Abusers

“We see a lot of people with mental illness being incarcerated at Santa Rita jail,” said Margot Dashiell, chairwoman of the AAFOP Steering Committee. “Forty-eight percent of those incarcerated in the jail’s mental health unit are African American, yet African Americans constitute only 9% of the County population. Involuntary hospitalization is also at a disproportionate rate at John George Mental Health facility.

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Margot Dashiell has a BA in sociology and MA in educational and clinical psychology. Ms. Dashiell taught African American studies and sociology at Laney College for 30 years, and now retired, is board chair of the Steering Committee for the African American Wellness Project.
Margot Dashiell has a BA in sociology and MA in educational and clinical psychology. Ms. Dashiell taught African American studies and sociology at Laney College for 30 years, and now retired, is board chair of the Steering Committee for the African American Wellness Project.

By Tanya Dennis

(This story is part of a series on Black Mental Health)

The African American Family Outreach Project (AAFOP) will host a free virtual workshop for family members who serve as caregivers for those living with serious mental illness and/or substance abuse on Saturday, June 25, from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

There, caregivers can seek information on symptoms, treatment options and the means for navigating Alameda County’s complex system of care. A four-person volunteer family member steering committee plans each event based on their own personal experience in caring for a loved one. The meetings are for family members and planned by family members. To register, call 510-697-8533.

The event will also feature Dr. Aaron Chapman, psychiatrist, and medical director for Alameda County Behavioral Health Services. He will discuss the role of psychiatric care and devote considerable time to answer audience questions in depth and followed by a panel of speakers who will describe the process for filing a complaint against a service provider.

“We see a lot of people with mental illness being incarcerated at Santa Rita jail,” said Margot Dashiell, chairwoman of the AAFOP Steering Committee. “Forty-eight percent of those incarcerated in the jail’s mental health unit are African American, yet African Americans constitute only 9% of the County population. Involuntary hospitalization is also at a disproportionate rate at John George Mental Health facility.

“If we can help families recognize the symptoms and what resources are available, families could recognize symptoms early on, and serious challenges could be averted,” she said. “Homelessness has exacerbated the problem and we’re witnessing an increase in suicides at an alarming rate. We offer family education and a resource support center virtually due to COVID-19.”

AAFOP was designed to help families who have loved ones suffering from mental illness with resources and coping skills. For the past five years, AAFOP’s fiscal sponsor and home has been the Mental Health Association of Alameda County, with funding from Alameda County Behavioral Health Services.

Traditionally, psychiatry programs, master’s degree and Ph.D. psychology programs did not recognize the importance of families in helping loved ones who are ill or addicted. In fact, it was once the common view in textbooks and training programs that mental illness resulted from poor parenting.

Reversing old ideas and practices, Alameda County Behavioral Health designated funds from California’s Mental Health Services Act to AAFOP to encourage family members to actively engage in the treatment process for loved ones. Many agencies and service providers today still do not actively encourage family participation in the treatment process.

AAFOP encourages continual learning and the importance of self-care in the face of stressful conditions. As such, it encourages attendees to join Family Education Resource Center’s AAFOP which meets virtually on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. To receive a link for the support group, call 510-746-1700.

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