Symposium on Race Looks at Health Care Disparities

September 25, 2007
Oct. 2, 2007 -- The 2007 University of Virginia Symposium on Race and Society concluded yesterday, bringing to an end three-day's worth of discussions, presentations, reflections and newsmaker sessions addressing the issue of equality, or lack of it, within the nation's health care system.

The theme for this year's symposium was "At The Crossroads: The Racial Implications of America's Health Care Crisis." The conference brought together physicians, scholars, students and concerned citizens from across the United States. The sessions, most of which were held in the University's Jordan Hall Conference Center Auditorium, focused on everything from HIV and diabetes to cancer.

The symposium began this past Sunday, with an emotional candlelight vigil on the steps of the Rotunda, "honoring those in the community that have needlessly lost their lives to health disparities." It ended at midday Tuesday with a panel of community members and distinguished speakers addressing questions about health disparities and HIV. Among the presenters during the three-day symposium were Dr. Chester Pierce, professor of education and psychiatry emeritus with Harvard University, who gave a lecture on "Disparity Vulnerability" and was presented with the 2007 Vivian Pinn Distinguished Lecturer's Award, which honors lifetime achievement in the field of health disparities.

Other speakers included Karen Waters, executive director of the Quality Community Council, Dr. Cato Laurencin, chair of the University's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Dr. Norman Oliver, director of the U.Va. Center on Health Disparities.

Oliver had promoted the symposium in advance as "A thoughtful, evidence-based discussion into how the benefits of the American health care system are shared unequally and how we, as members of the debate, can take action for greater health equity."