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2 LECTURES OFFER INFORMATION ON DIABETES

Feb. 26, 2002 – The public is invited to learn the latest information about diabetes signs and symptoms, diet and nutrition, and blood-sugar monitoring at free lectures Wednesday evening and Saturday morning on St. Thomas.
There also will be a presentation geared to health professionals including school nurses on Friday morning.
"It's so important for people with diabetes to learn how to take care of themselves," says Juel Percival Harrigan of Percival Communications, who is organizing the events.
Harrigan discovered she was diabetic the same year that her mother died of diabetic complications and her sister and brother also were diagnosed with the disease. Then living in Virginia, she embarked on a path of self-education. After moving back to the Virgin Islands in 1995, she used her contacts to invite top health-care professionals in the field to provide much-needed information locally about diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disorder in which the pancreas produces insufficient insulin, and blood sugar or glucose levels rise. If blood-sugar levels remain high over many years, problems with circulation, eyesight and kidney function can result. Diabetes mellitus is one of the three leading causes of death in the Virgin Islands.
The lectures are being presented by Latiya Clark, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator, and Gail Pearson, a registered dietitian and diabetes education professional. Both are from Virginia.
At the presentations, "We'll talk about the signs and symptoms of diabetes," Harrigan said. "That's very important." National statistics show that half of the people with the disorder don't know they have it, she said. Common symptoms include excessive hunger, excessive thirst, excessive urination, weight loss, tiredness, irritability, genital itching and delayed healing of wounds.
The free lectures will also cover the difference between Type I (or juvenile) and Type II (or adult-onset) diabetes, an update on new blood glucose-lowering drugs, and information about glucometers, or blood sugar-testing machines.
"I did my first diabetic lecture series here in the Virgin Islands back in 1995 and will continue to hold them annually," Harrigan said. "It's so important for people with diabetes to learn how to take care of themselves properly and enjoy the best health possible."
The programs oriented to the general public will take place Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Savan Community Center and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Ruth Dazle Community Center in Oswald Harris Court. Saturday's program will include finger-prick screenings for blood glucose level and a supermarket tour at the Long Bay Pueblo Supermarket led by Pearson.
The lecture for health professionals will be held Friday from 9 a.m. to noon in Conference Room A at Roy L. Schneider Hospital. Continuing education credits are available for participants. There is a fee of $5.
The lecture series is being sponsored by Percival Communications, Sens. Carlton Dowe and Celestino White, McGaw Export, Advanced Export and Pueblo Supermarkets.

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