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
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.