Denzel Davis Memorial Health fair returns at Stillman March 29

Community agencies to provide free health, wellness screenings

By David Miller

A black college student poses for a photo outdoors
Former Stillman student Denzel Davis passed away in his dorm room in 2018.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Are you at risk for hypertension or diabetes? Been putting off routine screenings because you don’t have health insurance or you feel in good health?

The Denzel Davis Memorial Health Fair at Stillman College on March 29 will offer a number of free health screenings, including blood pressure and blood glucose, as well as tests for sickle cell and HIV/AIDS.

The Denzel Davis Memorial Health Fair is sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama and will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Stillman quad. Representatives from local agencies will provide information on mental health care services and intimate partner and domestic violence.

The health fair, which honors Denzel Davis, a former Stillman student who passed away on Oct. 28, 2018 after contracting viral bronchitis, lifts barriers of cost and location for both students and West End residents. The health fair was held first in 2019 but has been on hiatus due to COVID-19.

Health disparities affect African Americans disproportionately in a number of areas, but, too often, preventative care and health screenings that can help stem negative health outcomes is never achieved. Barriers to access, like lack of insurance, often prevent people from getting routine care, like annual checkups and recommended health screenings for those of certain ages or ethnic groups.

“The disparity between African Americans and how health issues affect other populations is significant,” said Tomalisa Washington, director of Student Development at Stillman College and organizer of the health fair. “And, in addition to issues of access, we have a population that is very suspicious of health care professionals. So, the more we can expose our students and community to healthcare specialists is important, especially for early detection and preventive medicine.”

Early detection and preventative care are vital for Black people. About 55% of Black adults have high blood pressure, which often has no symptoms, but can lead to heart attack or stroke. Additionally, Black adults are 60% more likely to develop diabetes than white adults, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Screenings are critically important for HIV and AIDS, which affect the Black community at a staggering rate. Despite accounting for just 12% of the U.S. population, Black people account for 43% of HIV diagnoses and 44% of deaths among people living with HIV, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

A black woman poses for a photo in a studio
Dr. Keisha Lowther, Stillman alumna and health fair keynote speaker.

Five Horizons Health Services will do saliva swabs to test for HIV/AIDS, as well as other STDs, as the health fair. Condoms will also be distributed.

Other agencies participating include:

Stillman alumna Dr. Keisha Lowther, a primary care doctor in Tuscaloosa and chief medical officer of Whatley Health Services, will deliver the keynote address at the Denzel Davis Memorial Health Fair.

In 2012, Lowther opened her solo primary care practice, Generations Primary Care, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In September of 2021, her career goals came full circle, and she was appointed as the Chief Medical Officer of Whatley Health Services, a community-based health organization with 12 locations in West Alabama.