1962 The monthly newsletter of The U y of t
October 28, 2005, volxi, number 10
Change Behavior and Live Longer Institute Suggests
Our behavior is killing us. That was the
collective message at UVI's Nursing Division
health disparities conference held in October.
Presenter after presenter spoke about how
the risk of getting diabetes, obesity, hyperten-
sion, sexually transmitted diseases and can-
cer can be reduced if we modify our behav-
"Behavior modification is hard for all of
us, but I think it is the key to preventing what _
we know is the number one killer in the Virgin A UVI nursing st
Islands," said Dr. Michael Potts, referring to tion at a health
cardiovascular disease. Dr. Potts, the chief as her classmate
of cardiology and director ofthe Intensive Care
Unit at the Gov. Juan F Luis Hospital on St. Croix, spoke on
hypertension, one of the five identified health disparities in the
Virgin Islands, which leads to a variety of other disorders, includ-
ing cardiovascular disorder. A health disparity is the difference in
the occurrence, severity, and the burden of diseases, and the
differences in the life expectancy that exist between ethnic mi-
nority population groups compared to other groups.
"The challenge and the art of treating cardiac diseases are
still prevention," Dr. Potts said. The behaviors of people of the
Virgin Islands are rooted in cultural and social tradition, which
must be understood in order for changes to be made, he said.
Along with diseases of the heart, hypertension can also lead to
diseases of the brain, kidneys and arteries.
One major myth among men is that taking hypertension or
blood pressure pills reduces sexual function, Dr. Potts said. So
some men, believing that myth, may not take the medication. Dr.
Potts explained that it is untreated hypertension that may reduce
sexual function not the medication.
Potts said that the steps to reducing and preventing hyper-
tension are simple: following the DASH eating plan, reducing
sodium intake, increasing physical activity and reducing alcohol
consumption to moderation.
Those same steps can help to reduce obesity, another VI.
health disparity. Edward C. Jones, a doctoral candidate at Cornell
University who is researching childhood obesity in the V.I., said
that obese children tend to be obese adults, and obese adults are
predisposed to a list of other diseases including hypertension,
type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, early menstruation, or-
thopedic defects and lowered self esteem. "Children now are
more obese than their parents," said Jones, a public health nutri-
tionist with the Health Department's Special
Supplemental Food Program forWomen, In-
fants and Children. Jones said that priorto his
research there were no studies of childhood
obesity in the VI. He said that data from his
research must be compared to that of other
Caribbean islands along with that ofthe United
States to better understand the problem.
When it comes to HIV and sexually
transmitted diseases the problem is clear. "We
dent asks a ques- have an STD epidemic in the Virgin Islands,"
sparities institute said Dr. Gayann Hall, the medical director of
look on. the VI. Health Department's STD-HIV-TB
"For the size of the population we have, there's a lot of
HIV," Dr Hall said. The HIV/AIDS rate in the V.I. is the third in
the nation in prevalence, she said. The highest rate of transmis-
sion is through heterosexual sex. There are also many cases of
gonorrhea and chlamydia, both of which often go undiagnosed
and untreated because they are usually asymptomatic.
"Chlamydia is the number one cause of infertility in the United
States," Dr. Hall said. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea increase
the risk of HIV transmission. Hall mentioned that the territory's
Health continued on next page
I EVe4I4CsJM I
Nov. 2-Nov 4
Jazz Ensemble Concert
Class of 2006 Meeting
Campus Photo Shoot
Clash of Giants Fun Day
Campus Photo Shoot
Tito Nieves in Concert
Virgin Gorda Get-A-Way
"Seven Guitars" Play
Tito Nieves in Concert
"Students First" UVI Officials Say
The administration ofthe Univer-
sity of the Virgin Islands has reaf-
firmed its commitment to students in
its new mission, vision and value state-
ments. And you've probably heard
the new mantra by now: Students
"We know and accept the fact
that the students are the one reason
for having these institutions on St.
Thomas and St. Croix," said UVI
Provost Al Hassan Musah in a re- St. Thomas campus Stud
senators are sworn in at a
cent mdio interview with Raul Carrillo
on "The Afternoon Mix." "Everything we'll be doing in the next
10-12 years will be focused on student learning," Musah said.
It seems that this commitment is what students have been
advocating all along. "We need to show the faculty and staff that
we're the reason why they are here," said St. Thomas campus
Student Government Association
Vice PresidentAlkin Paul, at the of-
ficers' swearing-in ceremony in Sep-
At the ceremony St. Thomas
campus Executive Administrator
John D'Orazio assured the students
about the administration's commit-
S ment. "When we say that we are
putting the students at the center of
St everything we do, and when I say
t Government Association UVI students first, we really do
meanthat," D'Orazio said. "My door
is open," he continued. "I am here to serve the students."
Student leaders understand that UVI will realize its mission
through cooperation. "It's not an individual effort that's going to
get things done here at UVI," St. Thomas campus SGA Presi-
dent Ivan Connor said at the ceremony. "It's a team effort."
STD-HIV-TB programs offer free exams, testing and treatments.
In the case of cancer, getting tested can be the difference
between life and death. "We do not know what causes these
cancers," said Dr. Sandra Underwood, referring to breast and
prostate cancers, "but if diagnosed early we can treat these can-
cers." Dr. Underwood, a professor at the University of
Wisconson-Milwaukee, stressed the importance to the many
health care professionals in the audience of finding ways to ad-
dress the existing health disparities.
"We have the opportunity to affect change in people every
day," Dr. Underwood said. "Think about the population we must
reach to affect a change in health disparities," she said.
Dr. Alicia Georges, in an upbeat keynote speech, said that
addressing health disparities is the way to eliminating them. "We
have to work together to create a new group of leaders ... and
bring those leaders to the table," Dr. Georges said. "We have to
hold ourselves accountable. That's the key to changing health
The institute, titled "From Science to Service: A Roadmap
for Confronting Health Disparities in the U.S. Virgin Islands,"
was sponsored by The Caribbean Export Center for Research
and Education in Health Disparities. The Export Center was
established with a portion of athree-year, $1.1 million grant UVI
received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Sep-
tember 2004. The grant funds came from the NIH's National
Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
rtetste:UVI is a production of the UVI Public Relations
Office. Contact us by telephone at (340) 693-1056
FAX: (340) 693-1055
2 John Brewer's Bay
St. Thomas, VI 00802
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