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Heart of the Valley: Hidalgo County health expert debunks stigma surrounding diabetes

2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago Tuesday, April 02 2024 Apr 2, 2024 April 02, 2024 12:25 PM April 02, 2024 in News - Local

Diabetes is very common in the Rio Grande Valley. That's why it's important to know about the resources that are available.

One in every three people in the Valley is living with diabetes. In other words, more than 40 percent of the population age 50 or over suffers from this disease.

Hidalgo County health expert Ivan Melendez says the stigma around diabetes contributes to the high rate of people affected by the disease.

A stigma is a broad concept that includes the association of negative stereotypes regarding an illness or way of behavior.

According to Melendez, the majority of Valley residents are unaware that they have diabetes.

He says when it comes to stigma's, it is important to remember that diabetes comes from multiple factors.

"And so when you normalize it, and of course that's through education and through exposure, both to the patient and those around us and in society in general, then this normalizing of this process is definitely going to take the guilt and shame and the blame away from the disease of diabetes," Melendez said.

There are two types of diabetes.

Type 1 which is generally genetic and has to do with family history and Type 2, that is developed over time and is preventable and even reversible.

Melendez says that is why getting screened is so important.

The Valley has the highest percentage of population with diabetes and obesity.

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