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1st Lady:Health Inequities For Too Long02/25 06:23


   RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- During a visit to a cancer center Wednesday, first 
lady Jill Biden said health disparities have hurt communities of color "for far 
too long" and "it's about time" the country got serious about ending those 

   Jill Biden's visit to Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer 
Center in Richmond was her first public trip outside Washington since her 
husband's inauguration last month.

   She has been a longtime advocate for cancer patients and their families. Her 
and President Joe Biden's son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46. Her 
parents also died of cancer.

   During her visit, Jill Biden recounted how four of her friends were 
diagnosed with breast cancer within a one-year period in the 1990s.

   "Cancer touches everyone," she said.

   Biden praised the work of doctors and researchers at the Massey center, 
which has been nationally recognized for its work to study the socioeconomic 
and cultural factors that contribute to disparities in cancer outcomes. The 
center focuses on community engagement as part of a strategy to better reach 
underserved communities and to address health disparities, particularly in the 
Black community. It also works to expand minority participation in cancer 

   Biden cited "Facts and Faith Fridays," a weekly conference call started at 
the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic by Dr. Robert Winn, director of the 
Massey center, and Black clergy, to provide pastors and their congregations 
with key updates on pandemic-related issues, including personal protective 
equipment, social distancing, and rent and mortgage relief.

   Recently, the calls have included information about COVID-19 vaccinations, 
with a focus on addressing vaccine hesitancy. Guest have included Dr. Anthony 
Fauci, as well as state and local health officials.

   Biden said the initiative has helped build trust between communities and the 
Massey center, which she said has made strides to reduce health disparities.

   "It's about time that we started getting really serious about this," she 
said, adding that the pandemic has put a spotlight on the problem.

   She said churches have been key players in bringing everything from food to 
vaccinations to people of color during the pandemic.

   "I think that the communities of color, they trust you, and now, I think 
it's important that they learn to trust the federal government again," she said.

   The Massey center, founded in 1974, is one of two centers in Virginia 
designated by the National Cancer Institute to help lead the country's cancer 
research efforts.

   Biden toured the center's research laboratory with Winn and Dr. Ned 
Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute. She also received 
briefings from several doctors on their research.

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