Venus Williams in ‘Hear Me’ Campaign to End Bias in US Healthcare

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by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Tennis champion and activist Venus Williams will be featured in “Hear Me,” an advertising campaign by Blue Shield of California seeking to increase attention to and end the bias and inequalities currently seen in access to healthcare in the U.S.

“I am deeply passionate about prioritizing health and well-being, so joining the Blue Shield of California team on this campaign was an easy decision,” Williams said. “I look forward to advocating on issues that I truly believe will not only uplift women, but also shed light on matters that affect entire families and communities.”

Williams, one of several women included in the campaign, will work with Blue Shield over the next year and speak out about her diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome, as well as topics such as mental health, maternal health for Black women, fitness, and wellness.

The campaign seeks “to give voice to those who, for too long, have gone unheard,” Jeff Robertson, senior vice president of consumer growth and chief marketing officer at Blue Shield, said in a press release.

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Access to healthcare and being able to receive the most appropriate treatments in a timely fashion can be challenging for several groups, including women, immigrants, people of color, and those with low incomes.

“We are proud to be working with tennis icon and activist Venus Williams in addressing the implicit biases and systemic inequities that persist in health care today,” Robertson said.

“We need to take an honest look at our current healthcare system and how it is experienced by people of color, women, non-native English speakers, people who are non-binary, undocumented immigrants, and people with apparent and non-apparent disabilities,” he added.

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The “Hear Me” campaign will feature the testimonies of other women — including an ovarian cancer survivor and a woman who struggled with a recent pregnancy — and their struggles with healthcare access and treatment.

“Hear Me” is part of a Blue Shield’s advertising campaign “Who We Stand For Sets Us Apart,” and has featured Chelsea Werner, a four-time Special Olympics USA Gymnastics champion and model with Down Syndrome, a trauma nurse of Latin origin, a military veteran, and a ballet dancer in her 60s, among others.

“Unfortunately, many women — including myself — have felt dismissed, ignored, or even faced judgement when seeking answers about their health,” Williams said. “It’s important that we speak up and let our stories be told. I’m grateful to have found answers around my health challenges and want to help other women do the same.”