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April 2005 Issue

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Sickle Cell Symposium to Discuss Adult Patients' Medical Needs

Published April 2005

The nation's first-ever meeting to discuss the need for comprehensive care of adult sickle cell anemia patients will be held in Cincinnati April 78.

The National Adult Sickle Cell Providers Symposium, which will be attended by about 300 scientists and care providers from around the country, is sponsored by UC and the Sickle Cell Adult Provider Network.

Sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder, affects about 72,000 Americans and one in 500 African Americans. Characterized by episodes of pain, chronic anemia and severe infections, it usually begins in early childhood and is as yet without a cure.

For about 35 years, symposium organizers say, the emphasis of sickle cell care has been on children, through federally funded Pediatric Comprehensive Sickle Cell Care Centers. The centers have contributed to longevity and improved the lives of thousands of children with sickle cell disease.

These children, however, are now aged 30 to 40 and older, says Zahida Yasin, MD, director of the Adult Sickle Cell Program at UC, and there are few adult care centers to treat them.

"At this time in their lives these patients not only face the continuing battle with sickle cell disease, but also the additional health issues of middle age, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure," Dr. Yasin says.

"These problems are not only frequently prevalent, but also much more severe than in non-sickle patients," says Dr. Yasin, who is program director for the symposium. "Depression and other psychological conditions associated with chronic illness and lack of support systems are rampant."

Compounding the problem is the fact that many adult patients are poor, without families and often intermittently homeless. They also frequently have had a lifelong need for pain-killing drugs, which makes them susceptible to predators on the street.

"Today we don't have the resources to provide comprehensive care for the majority of adult patients with sickle cell disease in the United States," says Dr. Yasin. "We're hoping this conference will go at least part of the way to increasing awareness of the problem."

The April 7 sessions will be held at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati. The April 8 program will be at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

For more information call Georgia Scheben at 513-584-6178. Register online at

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