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Soap Opera Gets Latinos In Tune With Health Care

IVAN MORENO

DENVER (AP) ¿ It has all the hallmarks of the beloved telenovela: Heart-wrenching dialogue. Doors slamming amid tears. Over-the-top theatrics.

But the titillating story lines are laced with medical advice. An expecting but bickering couple is encouraged to seek prenatal care. The uncle of a boy injured in a car wreck caused by a drunk teenager learns about state-funded health insurance. A character who doesn't like her figure gets some advice from a health care adviser: Stop eating so many tamales.

The telenovela was created by Colorado officials to spread important health messages to Latinos, taking themes that normally would be the realm of public service announcements and packaging them in a format that is hugely popular in Latin America.

"It's a soap opera. So it's got the teenager who has some substance abuse issues. We have a family who is undocumented, and we talk about what their options are. We're seeing these characters develop. It's not a boring public service announcement," said Joanne Lindsay, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which administers health care programs for low-income families.

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