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Aetna Better Health Helps Hartford Student Advocate for Improved Diabetes Care and Health Literacy


HARTFORD, Conn., For the second time this year, Aetna Better HealthSM in Connecticut is teaming up with a local student to help complete a senior year “Social Justice Project,” while at the same time informing local residents on the important issues of diabetes and health literacy.

As part of his project, Gerald Villar, a 17-year-old senior at Capital Preparatory Magnet School, will make a public presentation on diabetes and the importance of improving health literacy. This presentation will take place on Monday, November 30 at the Hispanic Health Council Auditorium (175 Main Street, Hartford CT 06106) from 2:00-3:30 p.m. In addition to Villar’s presentation, a registered dietician from Hartford Hospital will be available to answer general questions about healthy eating with diabetes.

“Unfortunately, my mother has Type-2 diabetes, so I have seen what she has to go through as far as taking shots and having a certain diet to make sure she stays healthy,” Villar said. “This topic is important to me because of my family’s experience, but also because I know this is a major problem in the Hispanic community.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million children and adults in the United States – approximately 7.8 percent of the population – have diabetes. This number increases to 10.4 percent for Hispanics.

“To help prevent diabetes, you need to lead a healthy lifestyle, but you also need to understand information you receive from your doctors,” Villar said. “For people who might speak English as a second language, it’s important to have easy-to-understand information or information that might be written in the language they are more comfortable with.”

In addition to serving as a consultant on Villar’s project, Aetna Better Health’s outreach to the local community also incorporates some of the major points of his presentation. Information on its website,, is written at a sixth-grade reading level and is available in both English and Spanish. The Aetna Better Health marketing and outreach materials are also developed in both languages.

“We take great pride in the work that we do at Aetna Better Health to directly educate the local community on health care issues that are relevant to them,” said Rita Paradis, chief executive officer, Aetna Better Health in Connecticut. “However, the consulting role that we have played for these senior Social Justice Projects gives us even more satisfaction, as we feel like supporting these students is a great way to help them develop confidence and enthusiasm for engaging their local community on important health care topics.”

Earlier this year, Aetna Better Health served in a similar supporting role for Brantley Carter, who at the time was a senior at Capital Preparatory Magnet School. Carter’s senior Social Justice Project focused on asthma treatment and prevention.

About Aetna Better Health
Aetna Better HealthSM in Connecticut administers benefits for Connecticut’s HUSKY A and B programs, as well as the Charter Oak Health Plan, the state’s program for uninsured adults who meet state eligibility criteria. Aetna Better Health is part of Aetna Medicaid, which administers services to more than one million people in 11 states. For further information, go to


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