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$1,000 worth of free screenings for you

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The largest African-American event in the nation welcomes the return of the INshape Black & Minority Health Fair from July 17-20 in Hall D of the Indiana Convention Center.

“The Health Fair has been running for 23 years now,” said Elizabeth Hart, marketing director for the Indiana State Department of Health. “With over $1,000 worth of free screenings, this year’s event promises to be bigger and better.”

Sponsored by the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration, this year’s fair focuses on increasing minority awareness on such diseases as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Free testing and screenings will be available for cholesterol, blood glucose, child lead exposure and much more.

Attendees can also participate in the “One Stop-One Stick” program allowing people to donate blood at one designated area specifying which screenings they are interested in receiving. This year participants in this program can also donate samples to be included for prostate and breast cancer studies being conducted at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

“We are taking all different blood types from individuals who have cancer and those that do not,” said Nicki Coleman, a registered nurse with the IU Simon Cancer Center. “It is important for people to realize that without research, treatment like medicines and vaccines for the various diseases can never be found.”

Along with the Simon Cancer Center, newer vendors include the Komen-on-the-Go mobile which features an interactive learning center about breast cancer awareness and an HIV pavilion dedicated to HIV education and confidential testing. Other returning vendors include Clarian Health, Eli Lilly & Company, Kroger and Wishard Hospital.

“We understand that the economy is extremely rough right now,” Hart said. “This event is a good opportunity for people to come down as a family, with their church or group organization to get free access to health care and education.”

On July 17, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and Grammy-nominated singer Angie Stone helped mark the beginning of the 2008 Health Fair during the opening ceremony.

Ralph, who has written, directed and performed her one-woman production “Sometimes I Cry: the Loves, Lives and Losses of Women Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS,” talked about the growing epidemic and the need for African-American women to get tested. Stone, who is the new national spokesperson for the “Fearless African-Americans Connected and Empowered” diabetes campaign (FACE), sang during the ceremony and talked about how she lives with diabetes.

“People who come to this event become ambassadors of their own health,” Antoinette Holt, deputy director for the Indiana State Department of Health Office of Minority Health said. “The Health Fair provides them with the essential tools needed to go on and live healthier more aware lifestyles.”

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