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NEWS

For immediate useOct. 21, 1997 -- No. 770

Women's health topic of UNC-CH roundtable discussion involving Triangle university students

By KAREN STINNEFORD
UNC-CH News Services

CHAPEL HILL -- Hundreds of students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke, N.C. State and N.C. Central universities will converge in Chapel Hill Nov. 6 to discuss important women's health issues such as domestic violence, AIDS and breast cancer.

Event organizers call the National College Roundtable on Women's Health a landmark opportunity for college women and men to learn ways to reduce their risk of premature death and share their health concerns with government, academic and community leaders.

The roundtable, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. A free mini-health fair will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. to encourage women to take charge of their good health.

UNC-CH was one of just four college campuses in the country chosen by the U.S. Public Health Service's Office on Women's Health to host a roundtable. The University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University also have planned roundtables for this fall.

“As it relates to UNC students, I've learned that knowledge alone will not necessarily affect change, but a combination of knowledge, repetition of information in different forms, role-modeling, creative programming and strong support systems will impact attitudes and lifestyle behaviors,” said Devetta R. Holman, assistant director of health education at UNC-CH Student Health Service.

The National College Roundtable on Women's Health is sponsored by the UNC-CH Student Health Service, part of the UNC-CH Division of Student Affairs, and the U.S. Public Health Service's Office on Women's Health.

The roundtable will offer important new information on critical health issues, Holman said, and provide students a forum to share their health concerns and add their opinions to the national dialogue on women's health. “This event will be an interactive experience where all questions are meaningful and opinions do matter,” she said.

Students attending the roundtable will learn more about heart disease, stroke, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders and osteoporosis. Experts estimate that half of premature deaths in the United States are caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking, using alcohol and drugs, poor diets, unsafe sexual practices, lack of exercise and not using seatbelts. Experts also estimate that 1 million lives could be saved annually through behavior changes alone.

Participating in the roundtable discussion are Dr. Saralyn Mark, senior medical adviser to the Office on Women's Health; Dr. Susan Kitchen, vice chancellor for student affairs at UNC-CH; Helen Lettlow, director of the American Social Health Association's Women's Health Program; Bill Riddick II, dean of the N.C. Governor's Academy for Prevention Professionals at UNC-CH; and Jeanine Atkinson, substance-abuse specialist at Duke University.

Other topics to be discussed at the roundtable include pre-menstrual syndrome, gynecological health, exercise and fitness, portrayal of female body image in the media and mental health.

One highlight of the program will be the showing of “Get Real: Straight Talk about Women's Health,” an award-winning video developed by the Office on Women's Health and the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research. The video addresses several health concerns from the perspective of young women -- including domestic violence, AIDS and breast cancer -- and will stimulate discussion among participants.

“We are giving young women the proper tools to make knowledgeable decisions about their health -- decisions that could make the difference between life and premature death,” said Dr. Susan Blumenthal, deputy assistant secretary for health and assistant surgeon general.

Student Health Service will offer a free mini-health fair before the roundtable, where students can undergo a stress test, have their blood pressure and body fat tested and receive a computerized nutritional analysis.

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Print contact: Karen Stinneford

Broadcast contact: Karen Moon