The Diabetic Amputation Prevention Foundation (DAP) is proud to announce the return of the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program (BBHOP), which kicks off in the state of California, Saturday, May 12th, 2012.

From 11AM-4PM, the organization will facilitate statewide screenings in over 75 black owned barbershops from San Diego to Sacramento-screening over 1,500 African American men for diabetes and high blood pressure. Participants will also receive healthy lifestyle education and medical resources for local clinics and physicians.

“The need to address health care disparities in African American men is paramount in light of the fact that they have the lowest life expectancy of any group in the U.S.,” says Dr. Bill J. Releford, D.P.M., founder of the DAP Foundation. “For decades, the black barbershop has served as a centralized gathering place where African American men feel comfortable discussing the most important issues that impact their lives: politics, social trends, family and finances. Now, we are introducing an important discussion of health and the critical need for health awareness.”

Since its inception in 2007, the tour has visited over 750 barbershops in 50 cities and 13 states and will continue its mission to screen 500,000 African American men by the end of 2014. This unique and innovative grassroots program works strategically with black-owned barbershops, because it represents such a cultural institution of familiarity and trust among African American males-making it the most effective avenue to disseminate health education information.

Compared to the general public, it is African American males who have a higher risk of diabetes and other cardiovascular conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 3.7 million (14.7 percent) African Americans ages 20 years or older have diabetes, while statistics show that forty percent (40 percent) of African American men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease as compared to twenty-one percent (21 percent) of white men.

Partners for this leg of the tour are Anthem Blue Cross, one of California’s top health insurance providers and Medtronic, the leader in medical technology and pioneering therapies. By joining forces with these and other influential medical organizations, BBHOP is equipped to provide education, testing and prevention–more confident than ever that it will reach its screening goal by 2014.

Dr. Bill Releford organized the initiative to empower African American men to better understand cardiovascular diseases. As he travels across the country to spread awareness, he welcomes corporations, small businesses and county facilities to get involved in the mission. To learn more about The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program log-on to www.blackbarbershop.org and please remember to support this statewide effort on May 12th.