Striving for health equity in health education programming in a county as large and diverse as Cook County, Illinois is no small task. Cook County is the second-most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County, California. As of 2015, the population was 5.2 million.

Health disparities across the county, which includes the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, are vast. Data show the areas of greatest disparity being the south and west sides of the city, as well as the southern suburbs.

Whether it's participating in a rally, writing your legislator, signing a petition, or just educating your neighbor on an issue, advocacy plays a critical role in improving community health. Advocacy is crucial to raise awareness of community health issues and influence private and public policy choices. Recent community health issues that have been at the center of community health advocacy nationwide include access to affordable healthcare insurance, prescription drug policy, and gun violence prevention.

You might have seen announcements about screening for Hepatitis C. Over 3.5 million people are infected with Hepatitis C and about ¾ of them do not know it. Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver which will kill cells. Over time, there will be build up of dead cells leading to scarring. This can result in slow blood flow causing the liver to shrink, harden and stop working. We cannot survive without a liver.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Each year, nearly 13,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can be curable if found and treated early. It is the most preventable and the only gynecologic cancer with a screening test (Pap test) and a vaccine. Pap tests can detect changes in the cells of the cervix. It is recommended that women should begin Pap tests at the age of 21. Cervical cancer occurs most often in women over 30 but can occur at any age so regular screening is important.

The American Dental Association (ADA) and the ADA Foundation commemorate National Children's Dental Health Month every February to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. The health of our teeth and gums depends on a lifetime of care and so developing healthy habits at an early age and visiting the dentist regularly is important.

Yes, December 1st is National World AIDS Day, but we cannot stop there……

While December 1st is Worlds AIDS Day, a day that gives us an opportunity to come together and unite to stop new HIV infections, support those that have been affected and remember those who have lost their lives to HIV-related disease, we must continue to unite and bring awareness to this public health threat all year.

This is why I have decided to use this month's blog to highlight HIV/AIDS and the great accomplishments and strides that has been made.

We live in a technology driven society. Our youth do not know what life was like before cell phones, computers and the internet. While technology can contribute to an increasing array of health problems like sedentary life styles, many health educators are leveraging the power of technology and social media to advance health promotion activities and to encourage healthier lifestyles.

November is the time of year that the American Lung Association asks us to bring our attention to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a progressive, chronic lung disease that over time makes it hard to breathe. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States. While there is no cure for COPD, the good news is COPD is often preventable and treatable.