Christian Community Health Center hosted a free event recently to educate providers and faith community leaders on the unique health concerns of African American and LGBT HIV-positive people and tobacco use.
"HIV, Tobacco and Us" was a collaborative effort of the Chicago Department of Public Health Office of LGBT Health, the Christian Community Health Center, Chicago House and the Center on Halsted.
The event featured a panel discussion by public health workers in Chicago, including Kevin Strowder of Chicago House, Ronald "Kwesi" Harris of Chicago State University, Zyra Gordon-Smith of Christian Community Health Center, Carol Southard of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Alicia Matthews of the UIC School of Nursing.
Each panelist spoke briefly on his or her area of expertise, including HIV infection rates in the African-American community, menthol cigarette use in the African-American community, tobacco cessation resources for HIV-positive people, and prescription medications for tobacco cessation and HIV-treatment regimens.
According to panelists, the correlation of HIV and tobacco use disproportionately impacts Chicago's African American community, particularly those who are LGBT. Quitting smoking for HIV-positive individuals is a unique process that requires managing HIV viral loads while managing the stress and withdrawl symptoms that come with tobacco cessation.
The event also featured a question-and-answer portion to allow panelists to address the specific concerns of the service providers. A resource table was available for attendees to share information about their agencies and organizations.