Persephone as Clean air at the NAP Fashion Condom Show

Persephone as Clean AirPersephone, Ricky Sheridan during the day, is this year’s Smokeless Diva.  Eddiy Hilliard, Dustin Moorehead, and Ariss Mendoza who all co-designed her dress helped Persephone  reach the runway at this year’s Nebraska Aids Project Fashion Condom Show.
At the start of the year, University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities (UNMC CRHD) and Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) start looking for community volunteers and sponsorship.  By June, volunteers successfully put together a dress that assists with HIV/AIDS prevention, additionally we tie in tobacco awareness as an associated big issue.Persephone and Ariss Mendoza

As you may have read me mention in previous blogs, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the US, causing 1 out of 5 deaths each year. However, something that might be new to hear is that smoking is even more of a concern for people living with HIV, who tend to smoke more than the general population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking rates are 2-3 times higher among adults who are HIV positive. An article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, pointed out that HIV positive smokers compared to non HIV positive smokers lost a mortality rate ratio of 5 years.
In order to fight the incidence of smoking in the LGBT community, MOTAC, UNMC CRHD, and community volunteers find value in coming together to design a symbolic piece that speaks against tobacco.
Last year’s design was about respecting mother nature. This year, we slammed our heels through the runway declaringPersephone and Alex Mendoza that “everyone has the right to breathe clean air.” Persephone appeared as the natural clean air we should all be able to breathe.
Congratulations Persephone, volunteers, and sponsors, for making the design a success. This year’s sponsor was Samantha Pagano, a long time supporter of HIV/AIDS prevention. Volunteers included: Eddiy Hilliard; Dustin Moorehead from Creating Atmosphere; Ariss Rogel Mendoza from UNMC CRHD and MOTAC; Liz Brown from the Indian Center Youth Suicide Prevention Program, Alex Mendoza, and of course Ricky Sheridan as the beautiful Smokeless Diva 2014-Persephone.
proud girlIf you missed this year’s condom show, don’t worry! You can expect Persephone in other events and performances. Next weekend, Smokeless Diva will be performing at the Heartland Pride Stonewall Stage Drag Queen Show at 2pm. So please join us on June 28ath at Stintson Park to see Persephone take the stage.

World No Tobacco Day – May 31, 2014: A Day of Online Action

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), celebrated each year on May 31.  According to the World Heath Organization (WHO), the goal of WNTD is to contribute to protecting present and future generations not only from the devastating health consequences due to tobacco, but also from the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.  Tobacco is a first rate killer.  It is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for 10% of adult deaths worldwide.  The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing secondhand smoke. Unless we do something, the epidemic will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030. More than 80% of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low-and middle-income countries.

WHO World No Tobacco Day Campaign: Raise Tobacco Tax, Lower Death & Disease

WHO World No Tobacco Day Campaign: Raise Tobacco Tax, Lower Death & Disease

Specific goals of the 2014 WHO WNTD campaign are that:

  • governments increase taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce tobacco consumption;
  • individuals and civil society organizations encourage their governments to increase taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce consumption.

Again this year as part of our World No Tobacco Day activities, the Center will be doing an online media project to inform and engage the public on the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke as well as some of the community-based initiatives that are going on in Omaha and across the country.  We hope that you will join us for this day of action by participating in the online dialogue on Facebook, Twitter, and of course right here on our Blog.  Become a fan of our Facebook page.  Follow us on Twitter @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha and engage with us using the hashtag: #WNTD2014!

Health Profile of Nebraska’s Latino Population – Report Available

Health Profile coverThe University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) Center for Reducing Health Disparities together with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Office of Latino and Latin American Studies (OLLAS), have released a report and policy brief describing the serious health problems facing the growing Latino and immigrant populations in Nebraska and Iowa, particularly the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area.

The Health Profile Report focuses on the overall health disparities facing the Latino population, which grew by nearly 93 percent between 2000 and 2010 in Nebraska.  Below are some of the highlights of the report.

Nebraska Latino Health Status Highlights:

  • Over 35% of Hispanic/Latino adults aged 18 to 64 years old do not have a personal physician.
  • One quarter of Hispanics/Latinos rated their health status as either “fair” or “poor”.16
  • Almost one third of the Hispanic/Latino population is uninsured.[1]
  • Almost one quarter of Latinas received inadequate prenatal care.[2]
  • Close to 10% of Hispanic/Latino adults surveyed through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2006 to 2010 had more than 10 days in the past month where they mentally did not feel well.18  Almost a quarter of Latino youth felt sad and hopeless during the past year.[3]  About 14% of Hispanics/Latinos report that they never get any emotional support.[4]
  • Obesity, measured by a level of BMI at 30 or above, was higher for Hispanics/Latinos than for other groups.
  • More than one-third of Hispanics/Latinos have no exercise outside of work. [5]
  • The overall STD rate for Hispanics/Latinos was nearly three times the rate for Whites.[6]  Also, Latinos bear a disproportionate burden of the HIV epidemic, with a mortality rate that was 3 times that of Whites.
  • The teen birth rate for Latina girls was 4.9 times the rate of White girls.
  • Hispanic/Latino students were more likely to smoke cigarettes on one or more of the past 30 days than their White peers.[7]

Given these complex challenges, the solutions to addressing health disparities among Hispanics/Latinos require comprehensive, inter-sectoral, multi-level, community-wide interventions and policy changes that address not only health, but also the social determinants of health – the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age, as well as the healthcare systems in place to deal with illness.[12]  Policies across sectors such as education, economic development, housing, immigration, public safety, and healthcare can directly or indirectly impact disparate populations, including Latinos.  Efforts to revitalize poor neighborhoods, improve the quality of schools and access to public services, guarantee access to healthy foods, and ensure culturally-competent community services and equitable policies that link Latinos to economic opportunities are promising strategies that can significantly improve the health of Latino communities in Nebraska and across the country.  Indeed, ending racial and ethnic health disparities is a major challenge—but one that can be met if the research, public health practices, education and training, government, outreach, and service sectors work together

[1] U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey.

[2] Nebraska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2006-2010.

[3] Nebraska Youth Risk Behavior Survey. 2010 Survey Results.  Retrieved on December 19, 2012 from

[4] Nebraska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2006-2010.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Nebraska DHHS STD program, 2006-2010.

[7] Nebraska Youth Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, 2011.

[8] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Proyecto HEAL.

[9] Escarce JJ, Morales LS, Rumbaut RG. The Health Status and Health Behaviors of Hispanics. In: National Research Council (US) Panel on Hispanics in the United States; Tienda M, Mitchell F, editors. Hispanics and the Future of America. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006. 9. Available from: Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.  National Research Council (US) Panel on Hispanics in the United States; Tienda M, Mitchell F, editors. Hispanics and the Future of America. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.

[10] Ibid.

[11] United Way of the Midlands. (2003). Profile of Latino Youth.

[12] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Social Determinants of Health. Retrieved on January 9, 2013 from