Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health

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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health

Large disparities exist between minorities and the rest of Americans in major areas of health. Even though the overall health of the nation is improving, minorities suffer from certain diseases up to five times more than the rest of the nation. President Clinton has committed the nation to eliminating the disparities in six areas of health by the Year 2010, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be jumping in on this huge battle. The six areas are: Infant Mortality, Cancer Screening and Management, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, HIV Infection and AIDS, and Child and Adult Immunizations.

Infant mortality is considered a worldwide indicator of a nation’s health
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Only 71% of black and Hispanic women received prenatal care compared with 84% of White women.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 544,000 people each year. Minority groups suffer more from cancer than any other group. Black men and women have a cancer death rate about 35% higher than whites and the death rate for cancer in black men is almost 50% higher than white men. The death rate of lung cancer among blacks is about 27% higher than for whites. Also, the incidence rate for lung cancer in black men is 50% higher than in white men.

Cardiovascular disease, mainly coronary heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. A disproportionate number of people in minority and low-income populations die or become disabled from cardiovascular disease. The death rate for coronary heart disease for the nation decreased by 20% from 1987 to 1995, but for blacks, the overall decrease was only 13 percent. The coronary heart disease mortality rate for Asian Americans was 40% lower than whites, but 40% higher for blacks in 1995. High blood pressure and hypertension can increase the risk for coronary heart disease, and it has been shown that racial minorities have higher rates of hypertension, tend to develop hypertension at an earlier age, and are less likely to receive treatment for high blood pressure. Also, only 50% of American Indians, 44% of Asian
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