Helen Rodríguez Trías - Pediatrician Biography

Helen Rodríguez Trías - Pediatrician BiographyHelen Rodríguez Trías (July 7, 1929 – December 27, 2001) was a pediatrician, educator and women's rights activist. She was the first Hispanic president of the American Public Health Association, a founding member of the Women's Caucus of the American Public Health Association, and the recipient of the Presidential Citizen's Medal. She is credited with helping to expand the range of public health services for women and children in minority and low-income populations around the world.

Rodríguez Trías's parents moved to New York City from Puerto Rico in the early half of the 20th century. After her birth, her family returned to Puerto Rico only to return to New York in 1939. In New York, Rodríguez Trías experienced racism and discrimination.[1] In school, she was placed in a class with students who were academically handicapped, even though she had good grades and knew how to speak English. After she participated in a poem recital, her teacher realized that she was a gifted child and sent her to a class with gifted children.

In the 1980s, Rodríguez Trías served as medical director of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. She worked on behalf of women from minority groups who were infected with the HIV virus. In the 1990s, she served as health co-director of the Pacific Institute for Women's Health, a nonprofit research and advocacy group dedicated to improving women's well-being worldwide and focused on reproduction. Rodríguez Trías was a founding member of both the Women's Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus of the American Public Health Association and the first Latina to serve as the president of the APHA.

On January 8, 2001, President Bill Clinton honored Rodríguez Trías with the Presidential Citizen's Medal, the second-highest civilian award in the United States, for her work on behalf of women, children, people with HIV and AIDS, and the poor. Later that year, on December 27, Rodríguez Trías died, a victim of cancer. On July 7, 2018, which would have been Rodríguez Trías' 89th birthday, Google featured her in a Google Doodle in the United States.
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