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Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month Proclaimed in USVI

Aug. 30, 2008 – Governor John P. deJongh Jr. has proclaimed the month of September to be Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month in the territory.
The global impact of sickle cell disease necessitates a worldwide effort to increase communication, education and treatment. It is estimated that more than 75,000 Americans have the disease and more than two million Americans have the sickle cell trait. The National Institute of Health is encouraging a better understanding of the challenge of sickle cell disease nationally as it recognizes that the number of people diagnosed with sickle cell in the United States is still of great concern.
Two people wit the sickle cell trait, which causes few if any problems, risk producing offspring with the disease, which causes multiple health problems such as jaundice, severely painful joints, slow growth, leg ulcers and even death.
Blacks, Hispanics and people of Asian descent are mostly affected by the blood disorder and should be screened to determine if they are a carrier of the inherited sickle cell trait or if they have the disease. Studies show that one of every 625 babies born to African-Americans has the blood disorder.
There is no cure for sickle cell, but with early detection and intervention, adequate counseling and follow-up care, and current advances in finding a cure using medicine such as hydroxyurea and prophylactic penicillin, the disease can be controlled and patients can lead relatively normal lives.
Hundreds of America's major private, professional, voluntary, state and federal organizations work together to promote existing sickle cell disease programs and begin new programs throughout the United States; and as they continue to make progress in helping thousands of Americans control their sickle cell disease, they deserve recognition and support. The Virgin Islands Parent Support Group urges the community to work together to overcome the health and financial challenges caused by the disease and recognizes that everyone can do something about the problem through prevention, education and compassion; and emphasizes the hope of finding a cure.
The V.I. Department of Health, V.I. Sickle Cell Disease Association Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the St. Thomas and St. Croix Parent Support Groups have been in the forefront in the territory promoting greater awareness of the seriousness of sickle cell, helping to identify persons afflicted with the disease and providing information, which has greatly increased awareness and knowledge about it among Virgin Islanders.
DeJongh strongly urges the Department of Health, all civic, scientific, medical, nursing, educational, voluntary and health care organizations and professionals to join with him in promoting a greater awareness of sickle cell disease and to continue to educate the public, patients, and health care professionals in the detection, treatment and control of the disease.

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