Taking on Kidney Disease in the Nation’s Capital: American Kidney Fund Launches Know Your Kidneys™ Initiative to Foster Early Identification and Prevention of Kidney Disease


Partners with United Planning Organization, Men’s Health Network to reach residents at highest risk for the disease

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (July 11, 2017) – The District of Columbia has been called “ground zero” for kidney disease, with neighborhoods that have some of the highest rates of kidney failure—along with diabetes and high blood pressure, its leading causes—in the country. Through its new Know Your Kidneys DC™ program, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) is aiming to change that.

Know Your Kidneys DC is a comprehensive outreach, education and screening program designed to reach deep into the community to residents at high risk for kidney disease. AKF has forged partnerships with the United Planning Organization (UPO) and Men’s Health Network to help plan and deliver its health screening and kidney health education programs. Together, the organizations plan to provide free health screenings to 2,000 at-risk D.C. residents this year. Upcoming screenings and locations may be found at www.KnowYourKidneysDC.org.

The Know Your Kidneys DC program is built around three primary goals:

  • Improve residents’ understanding of kidney disease and its risk factors.
  • Motivate them to adapt needed behavior changes to reduce their risk of developing kidney disease.
  • Follow up to track increases in knowledge, reported behavior changes and improved health.

“The nation’s capital is a perfect storm of risk factors for kidney disease, creating an enormous public health challenge and placing a very serious physical and financial burden on those who develop kidney failure,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer of the American Kidney Fund. “Though any health screening program can have a positive effect on those who participate, we’ve designed Know Your Kidneys DC to go much farther. We want D.C. residents at risk for kidney disease to know we have their backs—that we’ll stay in touch with them, following up, to help motivate them to stay on track to better health.”

“UPO’s partnership with AKF is about aiding individuals and families in their quest for better health management and to live high quality, productive lives and to thrive,” said Andrea Thomas, UPO executive vice president.

“Awareness and education is key in preventing kidney disease—particularly in men. As an organization, Men’s Health Network is a strong believer in preventive screenings and this is particularly true for residents in Washington, D.C., where the death rate among men outpaces the national average,” said Ana Fadich, vice president of Men’s Health Network. “We are thrilled to partner with the American Kidney Fund and the Know Your Kidneys DC program.”

AKF’s Know Your Kidneys DC program is made possible by grants from Presenting National Screening Sponsors American Renal Associates and U.S. Renal Care, Inc., and Regional Sponsors Akebia Therapeutics, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals ARD, and Satellite Healthcare.

Wards at highest risk for kidney disease

African-Americans are three times more likely to develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or kidney failure) as whites, and Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics. Five of the eight D.C. wards have populations that are majority minority, and two (Wards 7 and 8) are nearly entirely African-American and Hispanic. Wards 7 and 8 also have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes in the District—of special concern because diabetes is responsible for nearly half of all cases of kidney failure.

The Know Your Kidneys DC program will concentrate outreach efforts in the DC wards with the highest risk for kidney disease based on demographic and health factors: Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8. Educational workshops and health screenings will identify individuals at high risk for kidney disease. Those individuals will receive motivational educational materials and multi-channel follow-up to reinforce their understanding of their health, their risk for kidney disease, and the lifestyle changes that can help them prevent it.

A highlight of the Know Your Kidneys DC program is Kidney Action Day®, AKF’s signature outreach event, on Saturday, Sept. 9 at The Yards Park at the Capitol Riverfront. Kidney Action Day is a free, fun, family-friendly event that features free kidney health screenings, healthy cooking demos, fun fitness activities and the KIDNEYNATION fundraising walk. Everyone who participated in Know Your Kidneys DC events leading up to September will be invited to Kidney Action Day for a special celebration.

About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling 1 in 5 U.S. dialysis patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation.

For more information, please visit KidneyFund.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About United Planning Organization (UPO)

UPO offers more than 30 human service programs to thousands of low-income individuals and families throughout the District by helping them get jobs, learn new skills, and find and stay in affordable housing. UPO also offers financial literacy training; early learning care; adult education and training; college scholarships; and activities for seniors. UPO’s mission is to Unite People with Opportunities.

About Men’s Health Network

Men's Health Network (MHN) is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray with health awareness messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation. Learn more about MHN at www.menshealthnetwork.org and follow them on Twitter @MensHlthNetwork and Facebook at www.facebook.com/menshealthnetwork. For more information on MHN's ongoing Dialogue on Men's Health series, visit www.dialogueonmenshealth.com

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