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Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Article

Mandisa Mbali

antiapartheid, gay rights, AIDS, and human rights activist, was born in Johannesburg in South Africa. Adurrazack (“Zackie”) Achmat was of Cape Malay heritage. His father, Suleiman Achmat, was a member of the South African Communist Party and his mother, Mymoena, was a trade union shop steward. Achmat’s entry into politics began at the age of 14 with his participation in the 1976 student uprising. He was detained in 1977 for burning down his high school in Salt River to demonstrate his support for the uprising. Achmat obtained a bachelor of arts honors degree in English literature from the University of the Western Cape in 1992.

He spent much of the period between 1976 and 1980 in detention for his opposition to the apartheid system. It was also in this period that Achmat read the then-banned works of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky and the progressive academic journal Work in ...

Article

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a fatal disease caused by the slow-acting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus multiplies in the body until it causes immune system damage, leading to diseases of the AIDS syndrome. HIV emerged in Africa in the 1960s and traveled to the United States and Europe the following decade. In the 1980s it spread silently across the globe until it became pandemic, or widespread. Some areas of the world were already significantly affected by AIDS, while in others the epidemic was just beginning. The virus is transmitted mainly via sexual fluids, but also by blood, from mother to child in the womb, and during delivery or breast-feeding. AIDS first was identified in the United States and France in 1981, principally among homosexual men. Then in 1982 and 1983 heterosexual Africans also were diagnosed Today AIDS poses a threat to the survival of millions especially ...

Article

The existence of HIV was first identified among populations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, as it was in North America and sub-Saharan Africa, in the early 1980s. HIV is a particularly virulent and incurable infection that is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids (such as blood or semen) and attacks the immune system, leaving the infected person susceptible to opportunistic infections and certain cancers, often resulting in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and death. Recent trends in Latin America and the Caribbean show a disproportionate number of new cases of HIV infection emerging among the poor and working classes and among populations of African descent.

After a few cases of the disease were diagnosed among Haitian immigrants in the United States, considerable attention was focused on the AIDS epidemic in Haiti This focus led to the misconception among many U S scientists and in the media that Haitian ...

Article

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which slowly attacks an infected person's immune system. Fatalities are rarely caused by AIDS alone, but rather by opportunistic infections that take advantage of the weakened immune system. HIV is transmitted through direct exchange of body fluids—such as blood or blood products, semen, and vaginal secretions—mainly during sexual intercourse or through the sharing of needles by intravenous drug users. AIDS is considered the last stage of HIV infection.

In America, AIDS was initially identified with gay white men. In response to this reality the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) directed their early response to gay communities in large urban areas. According to the CDC's internal research, however, minorities were increasingly becoming infected with HIV. By 1985 almost 40 percent of all AIDS cases were among minorities Amazingly over the next few years additional CDC research indicated ...

Article

Theodore Cohen

was born on 20 January 1908 in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, a medical doctor, and Pilar Beltrán Luchirí, the descendant of Ignacio María Luchichí, a well-known writer in the surrounding Papaloapan basin of southern Mexico. Though born into an elite family with no African ancestry, Aguirre Beltrán had a major impact on how we understand the African heritage of Mexico. In addition, he was interested in social issues, had an affinity for anarchism, and read scholars such as Georg Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx. In 1921 he moved to Mexico City to continue his preparatory studies, and in 1927 he enrolled in medical school at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University of Mexico). Having finished his thesis, “El metabolism basal en lasnefrosis” (Elemental Metabolism in Nephrosis), he graduated in 1931. He married Judith Avendaño, and they had five children.

After finishing medical school Aguirre ...

Article

AIDS  

Courtney Q. Shah

Scientists have debated the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) since they first recognized them in 1981 when clusters of homosexual men in California and New York were found to have suppressed immune systems. Since then HIV has become pandemic, affecting all segments of the population in every corner of the globe. Scientists believe that the disease originated in Cameroon, where a related virus called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) has been found in chimpanzees. The theory is that SIV jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime in the twentieth century. A retrospective study of preserved blood samples done in 1998 confirmed that the earliest known case of HIV was in a Congolese man who died in 1959.

AIDS was first labeled gay related immune deficiency GRID by the U S government s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC The earliest studies in ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Togolese medical doctor and politician, was born on 2 September 1913 in Lomé, the capital of the West African German colony of Togo. His parents belonged to a Ewe-speaking community. His father, Andréas Aku, was the first Togolese head of the Protestant Church of Togo and had been ordained by German missionaries. His mother was Caroline Aku.

Naturally, Aku attended Protestant missionary schools in Lomé from 1920 to 1928 The German Protestant pastor Gottfried Stoevesandt was so impressed with Aku s intellectual ability that he invited him to attend secondary school in Germany His relatively poor but influential parents agreed For the handful of Togolese students able to continue their education in Europe between World War I and World War II the medical field was the most attractive subject of their studies Aku passed the German baccalaureate examinations and then with the support of the Bremen Protestant mission entered ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Primary Source

The Tuskegee experiment, formally the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, lasted from 1932 until 1972 when a New York Times article shamed the government into ending it Run by the U S Public Health Service USPHS and made up of 600 African American men 399 infected with syphilis and 201 free of the disease the purported purpose of the study was to test whether untreated syphilis affected African Americans differently than whites Macon County was chosen for the study because of its high rate of syphilis and the poverty and poor education of its inhabitants The men in the study were not told about the disease it was referred to as bad blood or that they were participating in a scientific study In exchange for their participation the men were given hot meals on the day of their visits to the clinic free medical care ...

Primary Source

This biography appears in African American Women Chemists (Oxford University Press, 2011), by Dr. Jeannette Brown.

Article

South African surgeon who carried out the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant, was born into an impoverished Afrikaner family at Beaufort West, South Africa, on 8 November 1922. His father, the Reverend Adam Hendrik Barnard, was a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church for Coloured, or mixed-race, people, and his mother was Maria Elisabeth de Swart. He was educated at Beaufort West High School before training as a doctor at the University of Cape Town’s medical school, where he graduated MB, ChB, in 1945. Having done his internship at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, he worked for a short time as a rural general practitioner in Ceres, in the western Cape, before returning to Cape Town to become senior medical officer at City Hospital and then registrar at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1953 he gained his MD for his dissertation The Treatment of Tuberculosis Meningitis Later ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

pharmacist, lawyer, and Oromo nationalist and political activist in Ethiopia, was mainly responsible for the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front, which in turn transformed Oromo cultural nationalism to political nationalism. He was born in the region of Wallaga. He lost both his parents while very young, and it was his elder brother, the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, who brought him up and provided him with the best education.

While at Haile Selassie I University, Baro Tumsa immersed himself in student politics as well as risky underground Oromo political activities. From 1964 to 1966 he served as secretary and president of the union of the university students in Addis Ababa It was under his leadership that university students were radicalized and energized More than many of his contemporaries Baro Tumsa realized that the Oromo and other conquered people of southern Ethiopia were landless subjects without rights who were exploited economically ...

Article

David McBride

physician and public service and church activist, was born Leonidas Harris Berry on a tobacco farm in Woodsdale, North Carolina, the son of the Reverend Llewellyn Longfellow Berry, general secretary of the Department of Home and Foreign Missions of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and Beulah Harris. Leonidas acquired the desire to become a doctor at the age of five, when a distinguished‐looking local doctor treated a small wound on his foot. The young boy was impressed by this “miraculous” event. His aspiration to go to medical school intensified while he was attending Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1924 Berry graduated from Wilberforce University and went on to obtain the SB in 1925 from the University of Chicago. In 1930 he also received his medical degree from the University of Chicago s Rush Medical College Berry continued his medical training earning an MS ...

Article

Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian physician, was born to an old, well-known family of Tunis. Her widowed mother played a pivotal in her education starting from primary school. Both Tawhida and her sister were enrolled in the School for Muslim Girls, an academic institution prized for its first-class education, which had opened in 1909 in the family’s neighborhood. During the 1920s in Tunis while Bin Shaykh attended secondary school the feminist movement took off and was marked by a watershed event in 1924 Manubiya Wartani a young Tunisian woman attending a public conference devoted to the question of feminism and women s rights removed her veil and stood up in the crowd to make a speech At about the same time Bin Shaykh had a chance encounter that would utterly change the course of her life she made the acquaintance of a respected French physician Dr Etienne Burnet and his Russian wife Lydia ...

Article

Terri DiFazio

Despite how common it was for many of them to have more children than they desired, women of color were suspicious of the early birth control movement. This may be attributed, in part, to its association with the eugenics movement. Francis Galton, a British scientist and distant relative of Charles Darwin, coined the word “eugenics” and founded the Eugenics Society in 1907. Galton’s ideas fueled fear of “race suicide” in the white community and followers advocated birth control as a way to prevent American-born whites from being outnumbered by immigrants and blacks.

Margaret Sanger a public health nurse known for her tireless advocacy of the modern contraceptives movement was not in agreement with Galton s approach to eugenics although she used its terms to win support for the birth control movement Her complex role in this controversial matter raises questions about whether she was a racist ...

Article

Marquis Bey

Black trans lives have always been an important subject matter, but only recently has the topic gained public attention. In 2014Time magazine featured black trans woman and actress Laverne Cox in a story entitled The Transgender Tipping Point which helped to bring the lives of black trans people into the spotlight in full force for the first time But long before Cox black people of trans experience have been struggling living dying and making cultural history in the liminal spaces of the social scene They have been at the forefront of activism and have been subjected to a distinctive form of violence that has indelibly shaped the United States Being both black and trans creates a particular life experience that forces one to navigate space and time with the knowledge of how they are seen how they see themselves and what might happen because of the many perceptions ...

Article

Kennetta Hammond Perry

Concerns about healthcare have represented some of the most pressing issues facing black communities, and the pioneering efforts of the psychologist Nancy Boyd-Franklin have been an important contribution to the search for new solutions to meet these needs. Boyd-Franklin is an internationally renowned psychologist specializing in issues affecting black families and communities. She has been instrumental in developing new therapeutic ap- proaches that expand the range of treatment options available to address the mental health of black Americans.

Nancy Boyd-Franklin was born in Harlem, New York, to Regina and Rudolph Boyd Regina a teacher and Rudolph a police officer had moved to Harlem from the island of Jamaica and North Carolina respectively When Nancy was very young her parents impressed on her the value of education In the Boyd home education was seen as a tool that one should use to better the community This philosophy led Nancy ...

Article

Miriam Sawyer

Bragg, Janet (24 March 1907–11 April 1993), aviator, nurse, and nursing home proprietor, was born Janet Harmon in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Cordia Batts Harmon and Samuel Harmon, a brick contractor. The Batts family had long been established in Griffin. Bragg's maternal grandfather was a freed slave of Spanish descent, and her maternal grandmother was a Cherokee. Bragg's grandfather had built the house in which she and her siblings were born; her mother had been born in the same house. Bragg, the youngest of seven children, had a happy childhood, enjoying sports and games and excelling at school. In an interview conducted at the University of Arizona as part of a project called African Americans in Aviation in Arizona, Bragg reminisced: “We were a very happy family. We were not a rich family, only rich in love.”

Independence was encouraged in the Harmon household The children ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Chadian medical doctor, was born on 16 June 1956 in the eastern Chadian city of Abéché Her parents were Brahim Djadarab and Fatimé Fadoul She had four siblings her brother Issa Michel and her sisters Khalié Sadié Ibni Oumar Mahamet Saleh and Rakié The entire family attended primary school in Abéché and Brahim excelled in her education Her family supported her studies and she completed her secondary education at the Lycée Franco Arabe at Abéché Her father pressured her to study English but she found the language impractical in eastern Chad Even so she learned the language which would later prove to be extremely useful when she lived in Canada Her commitment to school impressed her Chadian and foreign teachers Missionaries and her family also strongly encouraged her Since there were no final classes to prepare for the baccalaureate examinations in Abéché in the early 1970s she had to ...