Minority Health Determines Health Of The Nation

A smiling man wearing glassesThe estimated lifetime risk for a diagnosis of HIV infection is a key measure of the disparities that exist for this disease in the United States. CDC estimates that were published in 2010 indicate that 1 in 52 Hispanics/Latinos and 1 in 22 blacks/African Americans will receive an HIV diagnoses during their lifetimes, compared with an estimated 1 in 170 whites.

This health inequity exists. Our work is to find out why, who, and what can be done to change these numbers.

Many factors contribute to higher HIV rates in certain populations. Race and ethnicity are not directly linked to the higher rates. Rather, overlapping social structures and environmental systems continue to place certain groups at a higher risk. For example, poverty, homophobia, stigma, discrimination, and language barriers are factors that influence whether a person will seek and is able to obtain HIV prevention information and quality health services.

These social and environmental factors—often called social determinants of health—are the roadblocks to protecting and improving health not just for persons of color but for all people in the United States. The month-long observance of National Minority Health Month highlights the need for more open conversations, better social and physical environments, increased access to quality health services, and an enhanced understanding of the complex barriers to good health.

CDC and partners have many programs at work to reach those who lack access to prevention and care services, who experience stifling homophobia and stigma, or other factors that reduce the quality of health care they receive.

The Care and Prevention in the United States (CAPUS) Demonstration Project addresses social, economic, clinical and structural factors influencing HIV health outcomes (see earlier blog on CAPUS). Another strategy, High Impact Prevention, launched in 2012, targets areas with the highest rates of HIV with funding allocations to provide HIV testing and comprehensive prevention and care services. A third, the Expanded Testing Initiative (ETI) supports state and local health department efforts to provide routine HIV testing in health care and community settings.