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by I.M. Estrada Portales
For New Pittsburgh Courier

“We need to get men connected to the health care system. As it is now, women outlive men by five to six years, and the situation is much bleaker in minority communities,” said Atlanta physician Jean Bonhomme.

“The health care system has become increasingly aware of the importance of prevention for the good health of the individuals. However, prevention has proven a challenge for men. Somehow, many still believe going to the doctor is a sign of weakness.

“In 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, even if you exclude obstetrics and gynecology, women go to the doctor 100 percent more than men.”

“Well, that’s the way they raise us,” said Dr. Bonhomme. “When you are a young boy and skin your knee, they tell you ‘men don’t cry.’ When you are playing football in high school and get injured, they tell you ‘take one for the team.’ So, when we feel pain on our chests later in life, we just assume we have to tough it up and don’t complain, because real men don’t do that.”

And that’s not even mentioning mental health issues, because according to Bonhomme, real men really don’t acknowledge mental illness!

“Men are not being taught to make their bodies a priority. They jump under their cars to fix them as soon as they hear the slightest noise, but they won’t be caught dead going to the doctor’s office just for ‘a bit of pain in the chest’,” he said.

On the other hand, there are objective factors, such as the lack of health insurance or immigration status, that make it harder for men to seek health care, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities.

“Men won’t come for chest pain, but they would come in a minute for erectile dysfunction. They don’t know that such dysfunction may be a signal of other underlying problems such as diabetes. Unfortunately, men come late in life when many of the lifestyle choices have sunk in already and it’s much more difficult to change,” concluded Bonhomme. “We need to change that.”

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