After a four-year hiatus, it’s back. The 2019 Men’s Health and Wellness Conference is recharged and happening again in Fort Lauderdale – on Jan. 26.
The free, one-day educational gathering is conceived for men of all ages and who identify as gay, bisexual or transgender. Its design is to appeal to the men who have sex with men (MSM) community.
Along with an array of local and national speakers, there are three plenary sessions and three interactive breakout workshops scheduled.
Topics covered by the speakers and through the sessions include an overall look at the state of men's health, diet and nutrition, access to health care, sexual health and screenings, depression and mental health, the future of men's health, HIV testing and more.
Other areas to be considered are gay youth and health care, HIV and millennials, domestic violence, substance abuse and social interactions.
Mark Reyes, one of the key organizers, said there will be plenty of discussions on body image, fitness and HIV. Walgreens will be giving attendees blood pressure readings and HIV tests.
Reyes expects about 200 attendees mostly from Broward County and surrounding communities. He said organizers have hit about 75 percent of their registration goals to date and have now embarked on a final push to reach full capacity.
“I’m really excited for the event. This is a great group of folks and we have great sponsors,” he said.
Reyes is the community co-chair in the MSM advisory group of the Broward County HIV Prevention Planning Council – the main organization heading up the conference.
The advisory group brings together leaders and decision-makers to mobilize organizations and allies who serve the MSM community in Broward County. The group addresses the various factors that bring about HIV infection in the MSM community – widely agreed upon as an epidemic in South Florida.
“We want to mobilize the MSM community,” he said.
“Black and Latino communities and others are being impacted by HIV, access to health care and insurance, issues with housing or full employment, and disease. It’s all related,” Reyes previously said when speaking about the conference.
Speakers scheduled to appear include Dr. Howard Grossman of the Midway Specialty Care Center and Dr. Sheetal Sharma of CAN Community Health. Dr. Elie Schochet, a local colon and rectal surgeon, will talk about the latest in sexual health and screenings.
The keynote and plenary on MSM and HIV will be headed up by Joshua Rodriguez of the Florida Department of Health in Broward County and Alejandro Acosta of Equality Florida.
Dr. Earl Benjamin Robinson of The Bach Group in New Orleans will close out the conference by giving attendees advice on how they can apply all the information and knowledge they learned throughout the day, Reyes said.
Reyes, also the senior director of community relations and administration at the Urban League of Broward County, ultimately hopes to move attendees toward positive actions that will improve their health outcomes.
“This conference is important for me, personally, as a gay man, and for Urban League,” he said.
The conference takes place Jan. 26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott North, located at 6650 North Andrews Avenue. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.