JScreen, a national nonprofit public-health initiative dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases, will hold the first-ever Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week (JGSAW) from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7. With organizational partners across the country, it will focus on stories, information and resources to help raise awareness about the importance of screening for Jewish genetic diseases.

“We know that education and awareness are essential in the journey towards ensuring our health and the health of our families,” said Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, executive director of JScreen. “Each day during JGSAW, along with our committed partners, we will share resources and real-life stories highlighting both the need for and ease of a simple saliva test for screening. We are hopeful that this increased awareness will lead more families to #getJScreened.”

JScreen’s partners in JGSAW include Honeymoon Israel, Hillel and Interfaith Family.

“This week is a call to action for screening for yourself, and for your friends and family,” said Mike Wilensky, State Representative of Georgia HD79, who introduced the proclamation declaring Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week. “We are thrilled to highlight JScreen’s efforts to help people take charge of their health and that of their children. Knowledge truly is power.”

JScreen, a national nonprofit public-health initiative dedicated to preventing Jewish genetic diseases, is holding its first-ever Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week from Feb. 3-7, 2020. Credit: Courtesy.

JGSAW will focus on a specific theme each day:

Feb. 3: More than just Tay-Sachs. While Tay-Sachs is certainly the most well-known Jewish genetic disease, JScreen tests for hundreds of other diseases that can be devastating for families. Knowledge is power; and knowing this information through reproductive carrier screening prior to pregnancy is important for family planning.

Feb. 4: College students. The farthest thing from many college students’ minds is having a baby. However, JScreen’s simple, quick and easy reproductive-carrier screening test provides information that is important for future family planning. For this reason, JScreen often hosts discounted screenings at colleges and universities throughout the country.

Feb. 5BRCA awareness. Ashkenazi Jews are at 10 times greater risk to have a mutation in the BRCA genes, increasing their risk for breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer. BRCA screening can provide life-saving information.

Feb. 6: Sephardi community. It’s commonly thought that carrier testing for family planning is solely for Ashkenazi Jews. In fact, Jews of all backgrounds are at risk and should be screened, including those with Sephardi and Mizrahi ancestry (such as Persians, Syrians and Bukharians).

Feb. 7Interfaith couples. While a number of diseases are commonly found in people with Jewish backgrounds, they also occur in the general population. For this reason, screening is important and informative for Jewish and interfaith couples. Pan-ethnic screening panels, like the one offered by JScreen, include diseases common across ethnicities.

“We hope that our efforts to raise awareness about the simple spit test that can be performed to provide genetic screening information will help people make the important decision to #getJScreened,” stressed Grinzaid.

 For more information, visit www.jscreen.org

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