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Category: Women's Health Articles

by Denae Ford

September 28, 2015

Why aren’t you smiling

Serena Williams’ womanhood has recently been under question. If you google ‘serena williams womanhood', you without a doubt, stumble upon some articles speculating that she is a male due to her amazing body. The body shaming that has surfaced due to this fit African-American Tennis player has without a doubt come at an interesting time, at the peak of her career. It seems as though the media had to discredit her exceptional achievements and question her on every move (including gender and health).

Interestingly enough, many of the gender questions have ended as it has become public knowledge that she has a relationship with Drake, the Canadian actor and rapper.  Now that she has a man on her arm, she is somehow now validated as a woman. The presence of a man, or his absence, should not be validating criteria to how feminine a woman is perceived. But because the media has “evidence” of her sexuality, there is no one questioning her womanhood any longer.

It often seems like the media just won’t let Serena live. As a woman, and one who smiles pretty often, it actually grinds my gears when I am asked why I’m not smiling. Most of the time there is some male stranger who thinks they have the authority and the privilege to tell me to smile. I assume this describes the reporter who thought it was reasonable to ask Serena during the press conference why she wasn’t smiling. Unfortunately we live in a society where some members expect you to react in a prescribed way. When you don’t, they assume something must be wrong as the reporter did during the press conference.

                    

It is as though society unconsciously has a problem when females keep a neutral face. During the recent Apple Event this September, the Adobe Creative Suite presentation showed the ease of being to edit the woman’s face from neutral to a moderate smile. The model’s resting face was not good enough and had to be modified it seems. It often seems as though many women just can’t win.  We can only wait for the day when our world is willing to accept that there are many definitions of a woman and all of them are SELF-DEFINED requiring no explanation.

              

Follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter; see myHealthImpactNetwork.org (Web) and myHealthimpact (Tumblr and YouTube).

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by Denae Ford

June 09, 2015

Growth

The key to maintaining a long relationship is keeping it healthy. Think of it as the same way you would treat a plant. You have to water it, nurture it, and give it some room to grow. Growth being the most important.  Your significant other should complement your growth and you should do the same for them. This means encouraging one another to pursue those dreams and maintain high goals.

From my personal experience, it can be somewhat challenging if those dreams take your significant other to another side of the country. At the end of the day you have to put yourself in their shoes and realize that you would like the same support in that situation.

Relationships can be hard; that’s no secret. However, recognizing how the growth of the relationship affects the individuals is amazing. Growing as one and yet still two individuals is the best part of it all.

couple holding hands

Psychology Today gives a couple healthy nuggets to maintaining a healthy relationship. I’ll leave you all with a couple that resonated with me:

  1. Give what you want to get.
  2. Successful relationships take work.
  3. Find a way to become and stay best friends.
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by Marcel Souffrant

January 22, 2015

Breaking the Silence

With the new sense of hypervigilance, particularly in relation to domestic violence, I hope that we as a community can come together in active support of survivors of abuse.  It must be clear that violence towards others in any form should not to be accepted, regardless of profession.  I hope to see advancements with the NO MORE PSA campaigns, Purple Purse, and the NFL, realizing their goals of decreased rates of domestic violence and increased support of the victims.

                     

In recent months there has been significant media coverage concerning the lives, specifically the legal matters, of professional athletes.  The abuse perpetrated by Ray Rice was seen by many outside of the sports world, and was the first of many noteworthy incidents involving his colleagues of the National Football League.  Since Rice’s arrest, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Adrian Peterson have been in the news for their respective criminal acts.  Athletes breaking the law is nothing new.  In the past, fans have often been aware of the personal lives of athletes, even with minimal media coverage, but there seems to be a shift regarding the awareness.  It is no longer solely fans who hear about the incidents, the coverage by major news outlets has increased the audience.


USA Today compiled a database of all NFL player arrests since 2000, citing 85 of the 713 arrests were made regarding situations of domestic violence.  Being that domestic violence is the one of the most underreported crimes, it is reasonable to assume that these numbers are not completely representative of the truth.  The difficulty to speak about domestic violence is highlighted in the “Speechless” series of NO MORE PSA.  The commercials have aired in recent weeks showing celebrities, as well as current and former NFL players sitting in silence as they attempt to speak on domestic violence. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is another group bringing domestic violence, and financial abuse in particular, to the forefront.  Allstate Foundation reports that financial abuse occurs in 98% of domestic violence cases.  This staggering number has prompted Purple Purse to make it “fashionable” to speak about domestic violence through fundraising to support survivors.


As we have seen, the issues faced by athletes are mirroring the societal issues we are facing today.  The question of corporal punishment, the prevalence of substance abuse, the charges of domestic violence, and even the statements of solidarity displayed following the killings in Ferguson and Staten Island, in relation to the athletes of the NFL, have all led to further questions addressing all people, instead of athletes exclusively. We must continue to recognize that as contributing members of society we have a responsibility to treat ourselves, and each other, with respect and dignity at all times.

Continue to follow @myhealthimpact on the latest news regarding domestic violence and your health!

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by Magaela Bethune

September 01, 2014

I’m in My Fourth Year… and Just Getting Started!

This month ushered in the start of my fourth year of graduate school. For the first time while in my Ph.D. program, I no longer felt like a young doe -- no tremor in my legs -- as I walked on campus to embark upon another school year. The confidence I now feel and clarity with which I view my objectives are undoubtedly attributable to the experience and knowledge I acquired over the summer. I was afforded the opportunity to work with executives at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks on their youth initiatives during the BET Experience and BET Awards show weekend in Los Angeles. I also launched two web usability studies for the Graduate School at my university. Finally, I put the finishing touches on a thesis and am now shifting my focus to my comprehensive paper and dissertation.

These are exciting times now. Until recently, keeping up with coursework, dealing with a health issues (breast cancer survivor!), managing work/family/life balance, and conducting supervised research have all encompassed my graduate school experience. Now, I am able to craft and develop my own scholarly identity. My research interests focus on youth engagement with new media and digital technologies, the ways it impacts their health, and more specifically their sexual health, behaviors, and development. My incoming interest in the topic solidified through my work with the Pathways to African American Success (PAAS) project, a family-based intervention designed to reduce risk behaviors of rural African American youth.

           

Through my classes, I was able to explore the issue of HIV/STI infection and transmission among youth in the United States, and particularly among African American youth. HIV/ STI among American youth is a major public health problem. In 2010, youth ages 13 to 24 years old constituted one-fourth of all new HIV infections in the United States (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014). Further, the CDC estimates that nearly 60% of HIV-infected youth are not aware of their HIV-status. Similarly, youth ages 15 to 24 years old, who make up 27% of the nation’s population, account for 50% of the 20 million new STIs in the U.S. each year (CDC, 2013). My research and dissertation will consider the ways that youth are formally and traditionally socialized regarding sexual health and risk, and the challenges, threats, and opportunities introduced by the recent rise in digital technology access, utilization, and digital media consumption. Congruent with these foci are the aims of MyHealthImpactNetwork, which involves leveraging technology to promote sexual, mental, and physical health. I look forward to engaging with @drfayonline and the #myHealthImpact organization (@myhealthimpact on Twitter), designed for – and by - college students interested in improving health and reducing health disparities. Fun times ahead… and I’m just getting started!

Magaela Bethune is a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University in the Community Research & Action program. Her website (www.magaelabethune.com) features curated content related to youth, technology, and health. Upon graduation, she plans to continue research informing the development of health interventions that leverage digital technology and media for youth.

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by Keiara Morris

July 30, 2014

Women’s Role in Men Health

Not to generalize all men but I know that the guys around my house used to absolutely despise going to the doctor because they felt like it was a waste of time. They believed that ALL could be healed with anything in the medicine cabinet and band-aids. This was my Dad before he suffered from a heart attack. These days I feel like our family dynamic is a little different. My Dad definitely doesn’t mind going to the doctor now and instead suggests healthy options at the dinner table.

My Mother and I are the only two females in my household and although my Dad has taken a different role in the health of our family, at the end of the day, the women keep things realistic and rational. There are many food options that my Dad brings to the table, but we (the women) figure out how to make these things work for our family or how to politely tell him “No, we’ll pass on that one”. From incorporating more fish, chicken and turkey into our diets and working out pork and beef to even starting our own family garden, our family has been made a complete lifestyle change. What’s an idea without someone to put it into action? Right, just an idea.

I believe that women play a huge role in men’s health. Typically because women are more aware of the signs of pending health issues thus sending up a red flag and ensuring that the men (in our families) see a doctor. So let's just face it, we are the backbone!

       

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by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

July 22, 2014

Black America’s Silent Epidemic – Outtake of @OWNTV @Lisaling – Our America

We watched the June 26, 2014 Our America series on OWN.  In this series, journalist Lisa Ling covered the HIV epidemic in Black America. Our team watched intently and followed the Twitter hashtag during the show.  What would be different about this coverage?  How would the Black community be portrayed? Would this be, yet, another depiction of all things wrong in and with the community?  How would it reach young people, the millennials?

Here are comments below from the research scholars (millennials) on the MyHealthImpact team and their thoughts on the series. Comments have been shorten for this blog post.

After watching the show, I realized that there are still more progress/action to be taken surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Especially, when it comes to church involvement, I was taken back when only “one” church had replied saying that they would allow the woman to speak/tell her story. I feel like the stigma and judgment still remains in the church. The fact that a church made an individual feel inferior baffled me. Also, from watching the episode, it’s important for people to get tested regular. Knowing you status, as well as, your partner’s status is important..  Overall, I enjoyed the episode and thought it was informative and did a great job of depicting several stories of people battling/dealing with HIV. I think we need more documentaries/programs like this, which educate and spread awareness on the issue.
 
I thought that HIV in the Black Community by Lisa Ling was a fantastic program. It was truly touching to hear African Americans open up to their personal battles with HIV. This goes to show that there is no one specific way that you can obtain the disease. Each person had their story, testimony proves that this is still a serious topic within our community. What really stuck out to me was the fact that people didn’t want to attend the free HIV testing event because of the stigma that the disease carries. This was very hurtful to hear because regardless to whatever [virus] any individual may have, it does not take away the face that they are still first and foremost a HUMAN. I can only imagine the stares, gossip and bickering that takes place when people find out that someone they know has HIV. This episode allowed me to see things from a different perspective. You never truly know what it feels like being in someone else’s shoes.


The program was really informative. The part that really stuck out the most to me was probably when one of the men stated he expects to only live to his mid-thirties. I was trying to think to how depressing that could be. Not only did he know he know that he is infected, but he has also gone untreated for a lengthy period of time. Also I’m not surprised that people didn’t show up to the free HIV event. No one wants their life to change; they want to be comfortable with their respective lifestyle without restrictions. This lifestyle is important to uphold, especially with your family. When one of the women shared with her family that she has HIV, I couldn’t imagine how her family felt. That’s like hearing if one of my siblings were infected. Of course they’re still going to be my siblings, but I would continually sympathize with them. Overall the program was good and the twitter response was very responsive as well.
 
This broadcast was really good and extremely informative. The broadcast was a good reminder of a lot of HIV facts and information that tend to get lost because we focus so much on the sexual transmission of the infection. We tend to overlook the fact that some people may be born with it or became infected through the use of needles. When I think about someone becoming infected, in my mind I automatically think about someone being promiscuous and not someone contracting it from her husband who she thought she could trust. The broadcast shed light on the situations that we fail to think about. I was completely tuned in locked on the screen. Sad to see the show end and really wishing that the broadcast was on a channel that could be seen by more of the masses because this was definitely one that everyone needed to see.

Follow us @myhealthimpact on Twitter.  See myhealthimpactnetwork.org for additional content and health information.

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by Christian Faith Baptist

June 24, 2014

National HIV Testing Day

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by Ebony Baldwin

May 21, 2014

Where are the black doctors?

Recent studies have revealed that 5 percent of physicians and dentists in the United States are black. With a statistic like that, how does one find the courage and motivation to work towards a profession where they see no one like themselves? As I continue my journey in applying to medical school this summer, I find myself trying to beat this statistic and become the example. Hopefully a general surgeon that will one day be able to share her personal stories, and most importantly, my struggles, so that future black medical school candidates can see examples of successful black physicians who likely had similar backgrounds, experiences and struggles as they do. With that said, I think its important to start this process early. If you introduce the possibility and the representation of black physicians at a young age, I believe that more black students would embrace the idea of becoming a physician. In addition to that, black students would view Medical and Dental School as an option and not a dream. It’s time to change the statistic and move above it. We can no longer let the challenges and academic curriculum for preparing and applying to health professional schools hinder our ability as black students to perform and show that we too belong in these professions. Though sometimes things may get difficult, there will always be resources available to help guide and encourage us. The need for more black doctors should be taken more seriously. The shortage in black physicians can potentially make access to healthcare even more challenging for minorities. Thus, affecting minorities’ access to healthcare and proper treatment. So, the question no longer needs to be, “Where are the Black Doctors” but rather “Who are all these black doctors”. Though this is not something that can be changed over night, it can be changed in the future. As long as the seeds are planted, the tree will grow. Black physicians need to work together to help inspire future black doctors.

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by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

March 20, 2014

College-Age Generation and the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)

In February 2014, @myhealthimpact and @medicalmentors held a Twitter chat (#MedTechImpact) to discuss the importance of the Affordable Care Act (#ACA)for the college-aged population.  The chat included experts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Howard University, Booz Allen Hamilton and the Maryland County Department of Health and Human Services.

          

Topics included: common misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act; finding #ACA online information; why should college students and the college-age population have health care coverage; advantages and disadvantages of the Act.  We also discussed how the Act encourages workforce development diversity among medical and health providers as well as information and computing technologists.

The infographic below can be found on the myhealthimpactnetwork.org site and/or here directly and lists some key facts regarding the #ACA.  The word cloud shows the keywords from the chat including students, health, college, join, patient and tech.  As discussed during the Twitter chat and shown in the infographic, the #ACA will:

  • Enable young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
  • Provide coverage for preventive care.
  • Provide preventive care and screenings for #HIV, #depression, #diabetes and many others.
  • Provide care even for those with pre-existing conditions.

The final day to register for health coverage is March 31, 2014.  #GetCovered. Check out the details for yourself.  Inform. Educate and empower yourself.  See https://www.healthcare.gov/young-adults/

 

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by Ebony Baldwin

March 06, 2014

The TURN UP: Spring Break Safety

With Spring Break literally around the corner, college students everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE are gearing up to travel to distance and tropical places to soak up some sun and jump in the water. While most students are only concentrating on getting that last minute workout in for washboards abs or purchasing their last minute wardrobe findings, I guarantee no one is thinking about STDs!

Instead, most college students are thinking about fun, alcohol and parties. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is wrong with having fun and of course making lifetime memories, BUT be SMART about it! Don’t forget about your morals and values, or should I say “home training”. Have “responsible” fun.  Yes, spring break is about having a good time and getting away from the books, but don’t be naive. 

Drink Responsibly

Personally, do yourself a favor and party smart. Pace yourself if you choose to drink, and avoid hard alcohol if you can or other drinks that are powerful and have fast effects—cause drunks make for “easy targets”. 

According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, 75 percent of college males and 43 percent of females reported being intoxicated on a daily basis during spring break. Which brings me to another point of discussion; don’t let alcohol blur the lines of love! There is no such thing as “I want to get to know you” or “love at first sight” during spring break! Just lust, deceitful lies, and sexual transmitted diseases! So, be smart and not STUPID!

Stay Safe: Safe Sex, Know Your Facts and Know Your Status

The only 100% sure way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases is by not having sex. If you choose to have sex with a stranger—which isn’t best idea—use something called   “condoms”. We are college students, so this should not be hard.  Stock up on protection before you leave home so you never find yourself in a compromised situation. If this isn’t enough for you, here are the facts:  Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men. Women who experience both sexual and physical abuse are significantly more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases. Take precautions and avoid situations or persons that may place you at risk for harm. Decide before even going on spring break what you’re willing to do, and then get to work setting your boundaries early and often. If you meet someone and decide to shack up, be up front with him or her if sex isn’t in the plan. Maybe something like, “Hey good lookin’. I’ve had fun this evening, but no sex tonight.” But seriously, don’t ever let anyone talk you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with. 

Keep Safe and Hang With Your Friends

Lastly,  “if you go out with your friends, go home with your friends.” It’s one of those things that keeps you a whole lot safer, and eliminates the bad, ugly, and stupid drama. This way you can look out for one another, and get a friend home who is too intoxicated to be out. So this spring break, think a little bit before you act! I’m sure that one week of fun is not worth your life! Don’t turn up too much, so that you look like a fool!

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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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