Eric Jackson/Staff Photographer

The Machine, a group made up of four Binghamton University fraternities, came together Tuesday evening in a forum entitled the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program to raise awareness of health care issues that affect minorities.

Cultural fraternities Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Beta Rho, Lambda Phi Epsilon and MALIK INC make up The Machine, whose forum featured a panel of four distinguished doctors and health care professionals who have expertise on such health issues.

“Since the elections are coming up, a lot of people don’t pay attention to this important issue,” said Anthony Brovchenko, a senior majoring in finance and MIS, and the president of Phi Kappa Psi, adding that the event was “an opportunity to find out some relevant information.”

Dr. Sharon Bryant of CSTEP, a state-funded program aimed at increasing the number of disadvantaged or underrepresented students in the medical and science fields, said the forum was inspired by the film, “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?”

“We need to tackle inequality in health care,” Bryant said.

Bridget McCane Saunders, who is in charge of health care promotion at Binghamton University, said that spreading the information could help make a change.

“Everyone can make a difference to empower themselves,” she said. “Major alcohol and tobacco companies have a lot of money invested in advertising.”

Realizing how these industries are trying to attract individuals is an important step in preventing an unhealthy lifestyle, according to Saunders. Simple things, such as exercise, are key to helping reduce stress.

“The No. 1 academic barrier students face is stress,” Saunders added.

Dr. Michael Leonard, a doctor at Health Services, posed a question to the audience.

“If you were to die today, what would be your cause of death?” he asked, stating that the top cause of death for people ages 20 to 40 is accidents, then suicide, followed by homicide.

“When I started at Health Services, 1 percent of visits regarded mental health; now it’s one [visit] in 10,” he added.

Leonard detailed his experience with Native Americans in the Midwest when he was a young doctor, and said that he believes education can lead to major improvements in the medical sphere.

“There are many small things you can do in a social world to make a big difference,” he said.

Leo Wilton, an assistant professor of human development and Africana studies at Binghamton University, discussed HIV and AIDS in the black community, and explained how the latter is one of the top 10 causes of death for African Americans.

“We [African Americans and Latinos] are in a state of emergency,” he said, referencing the fact that African Americans often deal with a higher rate of unrecognized infections.

“When we [African Americans] first test, more than likely it [HIV] is at an advanced level … when you think about it, it’s a crime,” Wilson said. “We need to be clear about prevention. Everyone needs to have an HIV test at least once a year. Heterosexual transmission has increased exponentially.”

Dr. Sharon Bryant expanded on several structural inequalities Wilton mentioned.

“We need to change the debate on health,” she said. “We have focused on health insurance, but we forgot about the environmental factor, which plays a bigger role.”

One example Bryant discussed is how many poor housing developments lack sidewalks.

“How do you exercise without a sidewalk?” she asked.