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What can health officials do to change traditional cultural patterns that place African Americans at risk of infectious or chronic diseases such as HIV & AIDS?

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This is a great question and one that is very important. There are several things that health officials can do to help in the area of diseases among African Americans. Also you touch upon a great point, when you mention "culture." True change will occur when culture changes. In light of this, I would suggest three actions.

First, with all change, it is important to know the culture well to diagnose the problem. So, if there are certain diseases in a community or culture, then this problem must be examined. With many young people, being promiscuous and having causal sex causes many to contract diseases and even worse AIDS. This needs to be diagnosed and challenged.

Second, there needs to be education. People need to know about the seriousness of these diseases first and foremost. Then they need to know how to protect themselves from these diseases. Perhaps more importantly, social workers and others might even want to team up with religious groups to help in this area.

Third, we always need to follow up. Change takes place with difficulty and encouragement is always needed. Along with this, clinics, testing, and counseling would be necessary to implement lasting change.

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