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Educating, Enriching, and Saving Lives: UHI’s 2018 Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award Winner!


On October 6, 2018, the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute presented their annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award to CHECC-uP Cervical Cancer in Minority Women with HIV Project, a collaboration between Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL) and the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, at the annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical & Translational Research (ICTR). 

With the help of Dr. Hae-Ra Han, the lead Principal Investigator on the project, CHECC-uP recruits’ women living with HIV, who are not receiving the needed health care to reduce the occurrence of, and offer early treatment for the same illness that took the life of Henrietta Lacks, cervical cancer. To date, over 900 women living with HIV have participated in the CHECC-uP study.

“We appreciate the fact that older women, who have pre-existing conditions, can be a part of research.”

Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL)

Members of Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL) pictured with Jeri Lacks, granddaughter to Henrietta Lacks. L to R: Miriam Whitehead, Melanie Reese, Jeri Lacks, Dorcas Baker, Joan Garrity, Stephanie Wiggins, and Ingrid McDowell

Upon accepting the award, Ms. Reese exclaimed “We are a largely volunteer organization and this award means so much to us!” The group plans to use the $15,000 award to increase healthcare access, engage and retain women in health care, and increase health literacy. The funds will also be used to reach more women living with HIV in the inner city who may be unaware of the need for cervical cancer screening and are in need of social supports.

To learn more about the CHECC-Up Project, watch the official Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award video on our YouTube channel.

About Older Women Embracing Life (OWEL)

Older Women Embracing Life, also known as OWEL (pronounced ohwWell), is a 501(c)3 organization established in 2005 with the help of the Johns Hopkins University AIDS Education and Training Center in response to their recognition that older women in Baltimore living with the challenge of HIV lacked the comfort and companionship that many support groups often provide. 

Imani West