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Soap Opera Gets Latinos In Tune With Health Care

A fear of deportation also prevents illegal immigrants from seeking help, said Palacio, who was an adviser for "Encrucijada."

About 800 people have called the hot line for help since "Encrucijada" first aired in May.

One of them was Regina Amador, an uninsured "Encrucijada" devotee who cleans offices for a living in Denver. After watching the show, Amador, 40, applied to get her 7-year-old son enrolled in Plan Plus. Call center advisers also told her she could go to a neighborhood clinic to get a Pap smear and a physical for $20.

Amador, a native of Mexico's Guerrero state, hadn't had a checkup for about 10 years.

"When you hear people talking about health, you start to worry about not having insurance," she said. "Now that they've checked me for everything, I feel more calm."

While the telenovela has Colorado-specific information, health officials in New Mexico, Texas and other states have expressed interest, Lindsay said.

Some who have tried the format before report success. In 2003, students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham produced a radio series called "Bodylove," featuring characters working at a beauty salon of the same name. "Bodylove" targeted African Americans, and its health themes were those the state health department said affect blacks the most ¿ hypertension, heart disease, diabetes.

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