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C Sharp
Music is part of the city's soul, and with that in mind, the New Orleans-based national nonprofit group, Siren to Wail, will hold a benefit concert as an instrument to better inform the public about the dangers and prevalence of hepatitis C.

Local singer Timothea Beckerman is president of Siren to Wail, which was founded last year and is sponsoring the concert Oct. 19 at the Howlin' Wolf. Ticket prices will be announced later. In addition to Beckerman, scheduled performers include Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Leslie Smith and lots of others. Medical professionals will be on hand to answer questions between musical acts.

Proceeds from the concert benefit Siren to Wail, which is dedicated to raising awareness and prevention of hepatitis C through education and other programs. Initially focusing on Louisiana, Siren to Wail's mission is to educate the public, work with medical professionals, assist those affected by the disease with intervention and education programs, affordable testing and screening, and counseling and medical referrals.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can damage the liver. Health statistics indicate that about one in every 50 Americans are infected with the virus, which may not cause visible symptoms for years while it damages the liver. For more information about hepatitis C, call the Siren to Wail Hotline at 891-4164.

Cancer Drive in High Gear
What could be more fun than driving a new car? How about test-driving a new BMW on Aug. 18 and having the car manufacturer's North America operation donate $1 to the international Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for every mile of your test drive.

Called the Ultimate Drive, the fundraiser is being staged in more than 200 cities across the country to raise money for the Komen foundation's dedication to eradicating breast cancer through advancing research, education programs, screenings and treatment. The Louisiana event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at Peake BMW (2630 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie). The program has raised more than $4 million over the past four years and has attracted more than 115,000 participants.

Breast cancer is the leading type of cancer suffered by American women, and it is estimated that 40,800 women and 400 men will die of the disease this year, according to national health statistics. In addition, medical experts expect 182,800 women and 1,400 men to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2001. There is no cure, but early detection and treatment can be effective.

In conjunction with the Ultimate Drive, now in its fifth year, organizers also will offer the Ultimate Child Safety Seat Clinic, in which safety technicians offer one-on-one instruction and hands-on demonstrations about how to correctly install child safety seats in various automobiles. The clinic was devised in response to National Transportation Safety Board reports that indicate about 96 percent of all child safety seats are installed in cars incorrectly.

Updating Medicaid
The state Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) says it expects the state's Medicaid patients in New Orleans to have 24-hour access to primary care doctors by November 2002 under its new CommunityCARE program.

CommunityCARE is a component of DHH's seven-point BLUEPrint for Health, a plan to improve the state's health care system by focusing on primary care and prevention of diseases instead of emphasizing hospitalization and other more costly treatment options. CommunityCARE is a managed care program that is directed by physicians instead of a health maintenance organization. Primary care doctors who sign up with the program agree to provide basic care and make referrals to specialists or other health care providers 24 hours a day.

DHH Secretary David Hood says the program has been initiated in 20 rural parishes already and will be in place throughout the state in just over a year. CommunityCARE is scheduled to be implemented in the New Orleans area in September and November 2002, the last parish to receive the expanded service.

Preventing Prostate Cancer
Three New Orleans medical institutions are taking part in the largest study to date on prevention of prostate cancer. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), administered by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), involves more than 400 study sites in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, including Ochsner Cancer Institute, the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center at LSU's Health Sciences Center and the Tulane Cancer Center.

The project will determine whether ingesting the dietary supplements selenium and vitamin E can prevent prostate cancer, which is the second most common form of cancer (behind skin cancer) in men. Cancer centers hope to enroll as many as 32,400 for the study, which is expected to last about 12 years. Participating cancer centers hope to enroll all the men needed for the study during the first five years.

American Cancer Society statistics indicate that as many as 198,100 American men -- 3,500 of them in Louisiana --will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 31,500 -- 600 Louisianians -- will die from it this year. SELECT was initiated to further explore promising indications in other studies that the supplements, antioxidants that occur naturally in the body, are capable of overcoming toxins, commonly called "free radicals," which are suspected of damaging cells' genetic material and spurring the development of cancer cells. In the first study in 1996, researchers were investigating whether selenium could prevent non-melanoma skin cancer. While it did not do that, the nutrient did decrease the incidence of prostate cancer in the men studied by more than 60 percent. Two years later, another study using vitamin E and beta carotene as a prophylactic to lung cancer found the male subjects who took vitamin E had 30 percent less incidence of prostate cancer.

SELECT will explore the effectiveness of selenium alone, vitamin E alone and the two nutrients combined. Men may be eligible to participate in the study if they are 55 or older (50 or older for African-American men), have never had prostate cancer, haven't had any cancer (other than non-melanoma skin cancer) in the past five years and generally are in good health. For more information, call one of the local cancer centers or contact the NCI at (800) 422-6237.

Great Organ-izer
Former Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency Executive Director Louise Jacobbi has earned the American Liver Foundation's highest honor, the George Jamieson Humanitarian Award for years of outstanding service in the prevention, treatment and cure of liver diseases.

Jacobbi, who taught surgery at Louisiana State University Medical Center for 14 years, has published several papers concerning organ donation and transplantation over the years. She currently heads a consulting agency that focuses on health care management and increasing organ donations.

During the past decade, Jacobbi has served on several boards and committees within the American Liver Foundation, establishing a foundation office in Washington, D.C., and helping form the organization's first legislative agenda. More recently, Jacobbi helped formulate a new focus and strategic plan for the organization's efforts to increase research funding and education efforts. On other fronts, Jacobbi was a founding director and the first "Governor" of the American Board of Transplant Coordinators and served on boards and councils for North American Transplant Coordinators, American Society for Histocompatability and Immunogenetics, the National Institutes of Health's National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, and the United Network for Organ Sharing.

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