FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
September 18, 2009 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has re-issued a statewide Sickle Cell Disease education campaign that includes three award-winning television and radio spots, to continue to raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).
Sickle Cell Disease (also known as sickle cell anemia) is a group of life-long blood disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. People with this disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent shapes, which then clog capillaries.
“The campaign puts a face on a disease most have heard of but few truly understand,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin. “Sickle Cell Disease often disrupts daily living with illness, pain, trips to emergency departments, stigma and a compromised quality of life. It can lead to a number of medical complications including stroke, acute chest syndrome and organ damage.”
The campaign will run in September on cable television and radio stations throughout Connecticut. Health officials are asking the public to reflect on the children and the adults whose lives, education and careers have been affected by Sickle Cell Disease and remind people how early diagnosis, patient education and proper treatment can considerably improve the quality and length of life of all patients.
The DPH campaign, which has been recognized for excellence among regional and national industry groups, offers general information about the disease, and features Connecticut residents who are living with the disease. The campaign targets those individuals and their families as well as medical, civil, social and religious leaders who can affect SCD care, funding and support. The campaign materials have also been distributed to other states (Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Alabama, Missouri) for use.
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited disease that affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. People of African descent are highest risk, with approximately 1 in 500 affected. Hispanics and those from countries around the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia are also at risk. SCD is the most common genetic blood disease in the country. There is currently no universal cure for sickle cell disease, but it can be treated.
In the United States, sickle cell anemia is most prevalent in African-Americans, occurring in about one in every 500 African-American children. To date in Connecticut, newborn screenings have identified over 466 babies with the disease and 14,658 with the trait.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.