Health Disparities Summary

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The lecture, led by Dr. Christian Dimaano, discussed a variety of health disparities and then went into an in depth look at Henrietta Lacks, and the use of her cells in scientific research. He described health disparities as the differences of health problems between races, lifestyles, and mental processes. This was a very interesting topic for me, as a nursing major, I hadn’t really thought about health disparities before, so it was interesting to think about all of the potentially higher health risks that can occur simply because a patients race, or mental state. He also discussed the social determinants of heath and how things like your physical environment, economic stability, social community, and education can all influence your health.

Dr. Dimaano also talked about how social determinants of health are health problems that you had no choice in, they are developed by factors such as sex, age, genes, medical care, and individual behaviors such as work and home life. All of these factors play a part in our health, and
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She had lacked access to healthcare for most of her life because of her race, and so when she was diagnosed with cancer she ended up at Johns Hopkins Hospital, because it was one of the few hospitals on the east coast that allowed the treatment of African Americans. It was on her death bed in John Hopkins, that some cells were taken from her without her permission, which was not ethical. It was those cells that were immortalized in a culture and are now called HeLa cells. HeLa cells, while not ethically sourced have been an amazing cell culture. They have been used to develop the polio vaccine and invitro fertilization, and the cells are still being used for drug development today. The main ethical problems are that the cells were taken without Henrietta’s permission, and that her family never received reimbursement for Henrietta’s contribution to
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