APA To Spotlight Symposium On 'Hot Topics In Afro-American Mental
The American Psychiatric Association will spotlight several sensitive issues on African
Americans and Mental Health, on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at the APA Annual Meeting in New
Orleans, Louisiana. The overall session title is: Hot Topics in Afro-American Mental Health.
Heading the team for this symposium is David Wayne Smith, Addiction Psychiatrist with the
Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services in Sacramento, California.
(PRWEB) March 10, 2010 -- Dr. Smith will present challenges in treating blacks in mental health, HIV and other
taboo topics including, HIV and African American men ‘on the down low.’ The Center for Disease Control
defines the phrase, ‘on the down low’ or ‘on the DL,’ as the ‘behavior of men who have sex with other men as
well as women and who do not identify as gay or bisexual.’ The risks associated with this activity present
widespread challenges for HIV prevention professionals. The stigma of homosexuality and the secretive nature of
this problem results in a number of women showing up in clinics around the country diagnosed with HIV.
In the general population, “there is an alarming over-representation of African-Americans in the United States
living with HIV and a large number have critical mental health needs as well,” says Dr. Smith. Mental health
concerns in African Americans are supported by the frequently misdiagnosis for schizophrenia rather than a more
accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder or other affective disorders in non-HIV patients.
Dr. William Lawson, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at
Howard University College of Medicine and Hospital, will address the unique psychopharmacological findings in
the black community. One of the common challenges in treating and identifying mental disorders, according to
Dr. Lawson is the ‘lack of research participation by African American patients and investigators in treatment
development.’ Patients are susp