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DHPE Awards Mini-Grants to Increase Lupus Health Education

Friday, January 22, 2016   (0 Comments)
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-- Ten health agencies receive funds to educate women of color and
health professionals about lupus


WASHINGTON, DC – The Directors of Health Promotion & Education (DHPE) has awarded $105,000 in mini-grants to ten health agencies across the country to implement lupus education and awareness campaigns. These campaigns will target women of color who are at an increased risk for lupus, as well as educating public health professionals and primary care providers of the signs and symptoms of lupus. By providing community-level awareness activities in seven states from January to June 2016, these local health organizations will increase the knowledge of lupus in racial and ethnic minority populations disproportionately affected by lupus.


“A mystery” is what lupus has been called by researchers, patients and physicians as it is an integrated, systemic disease that can take up to six years to diagnose if the medical provider is not familiar with its symptoms. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease with no cure that can damage any part of the body, including skin, joints and organs. Current research shows that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.  


“By educating women of color, who are at an increased risk of lupus, as well as primary care providers and health educators to recognize the signs and symptoms of lupus early, DHPE is striving to address lupus health disparities and hopefully reduce the diagnosis timeframe for some patients.” stated Dr. Steve Owens, who is the DHPE Health Equity Director and LEAP Program Director.


DHPE, a national public health association, was recently funded by the Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services to implement a national health education program on lupus entitled LEAP: Lupus Education and Awareness for Patients, Professionals and Providers.


“The awarding of these mini-grants allows for lupus health education to occur in a variety of ways, through local media and directly with clinicians and health educators,” said LEAP Lupus Program Manager Thometta Cozart, MS, MPH, CPH, CHES. “Some of the funded organizations are even assisting lupus patients to become peer educators and health advocates to lead their own optimal health support groups.”


The ten funded health organizations and their lupus education campaigns are:

  • Big Bend Area Health Education Center, Tallahassee, FL: The “Loop Us and Love Us” project engages minority women in medically underserved Madison County, Florida to establish a baseline on the disease’s prevalence in the region, and inform how and where lupus can be treated through a series of tailored events and referrals.

  • Cultivating Healthier Options In Communities Everywhere (C.H.O.I.C.E. Int’l Inc.), McDonough, GA: Operation WOLF (Women Overcoming Lupus Forever) raises awareness about lupus; provides resources to women of color; uplifts those that are currently battling lupus every day; and engages supporters and providers that will fight to help cure lupus.

  • Fayette Community Service Organization, Jefferson County, MS: The Health Intervention Project-Community (HIP-C) initiative conducts health education events and awareness campaigns that inspire healthy living for African American females and their families in Fayette, Mississippi. As a part of this campaign, Fayette will provide lupus health education during a frequent health segment on the local radio station.

  • Louisiana Bureau of Minority Health Access and Promotions, Baton Rouge, LA: The Bureau has subcontracted with two community organizations to implement the LEAP program and support the National Public Health Agenda for Lupus in Louisiana. Crescent City WIC in Gretna, LA will integrate lupus education into its current Healthy Start and maternal and child nutrition education programs. Furthermore, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Baton Rouge work with LA Primary Care Association to support lupus patients and coordinate lupus education for primary care health providers, including physicians, nurses and health educators.

  • Mount Olive Community Development, Clearwater, FL: The “Living Beyond Lupus” series of educational events is designed to increase awareness of lupus, as well as local health resources and services available to help those living with lupus in the Tampa Bay area.

  • Office Management and Technology, Inc. (OMT, Inc.), Baltimore, MD: OMT, Inc. will provide lupus education to African American, Asian and Hispanic women through culturally competent Optimal Support Group Meetings, awareness events, multi-lingual messaging, and a referral list of lupus sensitive providers through its partnerships with Baltimore City/County Head Starts, local churches and women’s organizations.

  • Pediatric Rheumatology Center at Rutgers Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ: Successful Management of the Impact of Lupus Erythematosus or Project SMILE provides lupus specific education, disease management skills and optimal health support groups to improve individual health behaviors by addressing: medication management; exercise and nutrition; doctor-patient communication; fatigue management; stress management techniques and co-occurring mental health issues of adults, adolescents and children living with lupus.

  • Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs (UMADAOP), Dayton, OH: The Dayton Lupus Education & Awareness Program will coordinate multiple activities aimed at: increasing lupus awareness of the general African American community in Montgomery County in Ohio; supporting African American patients with lupus; and improving lupus knowledge of physicians, allied health professionals and students/trainees.

    The DHPE LEAP Program is funded through the National Health Education Lupus Program of the Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services through grant #CPIMP150088-01-01. For more information contact LEAP Project Director Steven Owens, MD, MPH at  or LEAP Project Manager Thometta Cozart, MS, MPH, CHES, CPH at and visit the program website at For media inquiries, call Leris Bernard, LGB Productions, 202.234-0312 or email

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