African-American Health

Key Questions (by Funmilola Owolabi and Vanessa Jackson)

Why is the HIV/AIDS Rate So High Among African Americans?

There is extensive information on the internet about the HIV/AIDS rate within the African American population. Study after study shows that HIV infections continue to escalate among this community – especially among gay and bisexual black men – even though they practice safe sex at rates that equal or exceed those of whites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put together an HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet, discussing a number of statistics in regards to African Americans and the increasing epidemic. While some studies indicate that Behavior among African Americans increases the chances of contracting an STD, others say that even in the absence of risky behavior, environmental, institutional, and contextual influences, such as differences in social and dating patterns play a major role in one’s risk for HIV. Whichever the case may be, US blacks are answers to the AIDS epidemic. With increasing research being done on the HIV Vaccine, African Americans are hopeful that the now very high transmission rates of HIV/AIDS will soon decrease.

Why is Diabetes Becoming an Epidemic Within the African American Community?

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent and fastest growing chronic diseases in the U.S., and black Americans with diabetes have a higher burden of illness and mortality than do white Americans. Diabetes has certainly become an epidemic among African Americans. African Americans are at a particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a great deal of information regarding diabetes and African Americans. Diagnoses and treatment of diseases in African-American children affect their overall prognosis. There are several factors that are influences in the African American population; environment, diet, availability of quality health care, as well as genetic. Many argue that in order to reduce the diabetes rate, parents need to establish good health in their children (link not found 2/24/2007). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks to improve the health and health care of all Americans. In this site, it is easy to search through the extensive information regarding the African American community and the increasingly problematic diabetes epidemic.

Why are So Many African Americans Uninsured or Under-Insured?

African Americans have high uninsured rates and high incidence of chronic disease. In the issue brief “Health Care Disconnect: Gaps in Coverage and Care for Minority Adults,” authors Michelle Doty and Alyssa Holmgren go into great detail as to why it is that so many African Americans continue to remain uninsured. Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in Medicaid. African Americans in particular tend to rely more heavily on Medicaid for their health care needs: one fourth of all African Americans are enrolled in the program. Another report, Health Status, Health Insurance, and Health Services Utilization offers descriptive charts and graphs, analyzing the effects of being uninsured in particular health categories: dentistry, prescription medicines, hospital stays, etc. The percentage column in a table from the US Census Bureau highlights the fact that minority groups, overall, continue to have much higher rates of uninsured.


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