“We’re starting to learn what some of those pathways are and starting to develop treatment approaches that address those pathways,” Bebo says. “But we don’t have the kinds of disease-modifying therapies now in progressive forms of MS that we have for relapsing MS and, of course, we don’t have a cure for any of that.”
Among the reasons socioeconomic status is important is that it can affect access to medical care and medications, Bebo adds.
“I found it interesting that socioeconomic factors that they studied did influence the severity of disease in the white population, but not in the Black population, which I find hard to understand but the conclusion tells us we need to do more research. I know everybody hates to hear that,” Bebo says. “This is an interesting study, but it’s not definitive and we have to do more work, which is true, but it’s hard if you live with MS to hear that all the time.”
The study also confirms what other studies have shown, that the burden of MS in the Black population seems to be higher than it is in the white population, Bebo shares.
“We can’t say with a lot of certainty what the reasons are for that, but we’re starting to learn what they are,” Bebo adds. “I think this publication is adding to a growing body of evidence that really is documenting that Black people with MS have worse outcomes.”
Black people can experience the following symptoms at a higher severity than white people, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society:
- more frequent relapses and poorer recovery
- more walking problems
- more balance and coordination problems
- more problems with thinking
- earlier disability onset
- more visual symptoms
Although the symptoms can be worse for Black people, with the right treatment plan and exercise program MS patients can still have an amazing life. It may not be the same as before, but you can still engage in your favorite activities with the right modifications.