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Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities

Last updated March 19, 2020

Approved by: Lester Fahrner, MD

For too many racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, good health is elusive and access to health promotion and prevention programs and appropriate healthcare are often relative to economic status, race or ethnicity, gender, education, disability, geographic location or sexual orientation.


Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities

For too many racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, good health is elusive and access to health promotion and prevention programs and appropriate healthcare are often relative to economic status, race or ethnicity, gender, education, disability, geographic location or sexual orientation.

African Americans

Cancer - In 2001, the age-adjusted death rate for cancer was 25.4 percent higher for African-Americans (243.1 per 100,000 population) than for white Americans (193.9).

Diabetes - In 2001, the diabetes age-adjusted death rate for African-Americans was more than twice that for white Americans (49.2 vs. 23.0 per 100,000 population).

Adult Immunization - In 2002, influenza vaccination coverage among adults 65 years of age and older was 70.2 percent for whites and 52.0 percent for African-Americans. The gap for pneumococcal vaccination coverage among older adults was even wider at 60.6 percent for whites and 36.1 percent for African-Americans.

Infant Mortality - In 2001, the infant mortality rate among African-Americans was 13.3 per 1,000 live births -- more than twice the rate for white Americans (5.7 per 1,000 live births).

American Indians/Alaska Natives

Chronic diseases - Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives. The prevalence of diabetes is more than twice that for all adults in the United States, and the mortality rate from chronic liver disease is more than twice as high, according to 2002 data.

Infant mortality - The infant mortality rate among American Indians and Alaska Native are 1.7 times higher than non-Hispanic whites. the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) rate among this minority is the highest of any population group, more than double that of whites in 1999.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - In 2001, the syphilis rate among AI/AN was 6 times higher than the syphilis rate among the non-Hispanic white population, the Chlamydia rate was 5.5 times higher, the gonorrhea rate was 4 times higher and the AIDS rate was 1.5 times higher.

Injuries - Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of AI/AN death and the leading cause for age 1-44 years. AI/AN death rates for unintentional injuries and motor vehicle crashes are 1.7 to 2.0 times higher than the rates for all racial/ethnic populations, while suicide rates for AI/AN youth are 3 times greater than rates for whites of similar age.

Asian Americans

Access to Healthcare - According to the 2000 U.S. census, Asian Americans represent 4.2 percent of the U.S. population or 11.9 million individuals. Overall, about 21 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lack health insurance, compared to about 16 percent of the general population.

Cancer - During 1988-1992, the highest age-adjusted incidence rate of cervical cancer occurred among Vietnamese American women (43 per 100,000), almost five times higher than the rate among non-Hispanic white women (7.5 per 100,000). During 1988-1992, the highest incidence rate of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer was seen in Vietnamese American men (41.8 per 100,000), more than 10 times higher than the rate among non-Hispanic white men (3.3 per 100,000).

Tuberculosis (TB) - Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had the highest tuberculosis (TB) case rates (33 per 100,000) of any racial and ethnic population in 2001 (14 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic blacks, 12 per 100,000 for Hispanics/Latinos, 11 per 100,000 for American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 2 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic whites).

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) - While the rate of acute hepatitis B (HBV) among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been decreasing, the reported rate in 2001 was more than twice as high among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (2.95 per 100,000) as among white Americans (1.31 per 100,000).

Hispanic/Latino Americans

HIV/AIDS - According to the 2000 U.S. census, Hispanics/Latinos of all ethnic groups represent 13.3 percent of the U.S. population or 38.8 million individuals. In 1999 the age-adjusted death rate for HIV was 32.7 per 100,000 for Puerto Ricans living on the mainland U.S., higher than any other racial or ethnic group, more than six times the national average (5.4 per 100,000) and more than 13 times the rate for non-Hispanic whites (2.4 per 100,000).

Diabetes - Among Hispanics/Latinos, the diabetes death rate in 2000 was highest among Puerto Ricans (172 per 100,000), followed by the rates for Mexican Americans (122 per 100,000), and Cuban Americans (47 per 100,000).

Adult Immunization - In 2002, influenza vaccination coverage among adults 65 years of age and older was 70.2 percent for whites and 46.7 percent for Hispanics/Latinos. The gap for pneumococcal vaccination coverage among older adults was even wider, with 60.6 percent for whites and 23.8 percent for Hispanics/Latinos.

Asthma - During 1993-1995 in the northeast U.S., Hispanics/Latinos had an asthma death rate of 34 per million, more than twice the rate for white Americans (15.1 per million).

Work-Related Injuries - Mexican foreign born workers accounted for more than two thirds (69 percent) of the 2,440 fatally injured, foreign born workers between 1995 and 2000. Lower percentages of fatally injured workers came from Cuba (146 or 6 percent), El Salvador (131 or 5 percent), Guatemala (90 or 4 percent), and Dominican Republic (87 or 4 percent).

Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders

Access to Healthcare - According to the 2000 U.S. census, Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islanders represent 0.3 percent of the U.S. population or 874,000 individuals. Overall, about 21 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lack health insurance, compared to about 16 percent of the general population.

Tuberculosis (TB) - Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders had the highest tuberculosis (TB) case rates (33 per 100,000) of any racial and ethnic population in 2001 (14 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic blacks, 12 per 100,000 for Hispanics/Latinos, 11 per 100,000 for American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 2 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic whites).

Diabetes - During 1996-2000, Native Hawaiians were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic white residents of Hawaii of similar age.

Infant mortality - In 2000, infant mortality among Native Hawaiians was 9.1 per 1,000, almost 60 percent higher than among whites (5.7 per 1,000).

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) - While the rate of acute hepatitis B (HBV) among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been decreasing, the reported rate in 2001 was more than twice as high among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (3.0 per 100,000) as among white Americans (1.3 per 100,000).

Asthma - Native Hawaiians in Hawaii had an asthma rate of 139.5 per 1,000 in 2000, almost twice the rate for all other races in Hawaii (71.5 per 1,000).

Smoking - In 2000, 30.9 percent of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii reported smoking cigarettes, compared with 19.7 percent of Hawaii residents overall.

What the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office of Minority Health Does:

Leads policy initiatives

Coordinates agency action on minority health initiatives

Supports minority-serving institutions of higher learning

Establishes and enhances internal and external partnerships

Supports training opportunities for minority students

Undertakes studies of health issues affecting key populations

Advocates action on activities to eliminate health disparities

For more information, non media should call 1-800-311-3435, or try the links below:

Spotlight on Minority Health

http://www.cdc.gov/omh/Populations/populations.htm

HHS Office of Minority Health

http://www.omhrc.gov/omh/whatsnew/2pgwhatsnew/special128a.htm

National Immunization Program

http://www.cdc.gov/nip/specint/readii/

National Center for Health Statistics

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Materials:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 19, 2020
Last updated: March 19, 2020