News & Announcements

Health Disparities Associated with Education and Poverty: Depression Five Times Greater for Poor

Posted: May 31, 2012

A recent article published in Bloomberg discussed the findings of the recently released annual report by the National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, which showed health disparities are strongly associated with education and poverty. Poverty is tied to the greatest health disparities. In 2005 to 2010, depression among those 20 to 64 years old was five times as high for those below the poverty line as those whose incomes were 400 percent or more above it. The report has a 2011 Special Feature on Socioeconomic Status and Health.

Each year, the National Center for Health Statistics within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases a report on the health of Americans. The most recent report found that higher levels of education are associated with longer life expectancies and lower obesity rates, the article noted. For instance, in 2006, a 25-year-old man without a college degree lived 9.3 years fewer than a man with a college degree. Among women, the life expectancy was 8.6 years fewer for women without a college degree compared to women with college degrees. Amy Bernstein, a health services researcher and lead study author, said “There are huge differences by education. I was surprised to see things haven’t improved.” The annual report also explored the uninsured rate, cost of the uninsured, and levels of income. For instance, the proportion of uninsured persons ages 18 to 44 increased from 22 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2010, and the proportion on Medicaid nearly doubled to 11 percent, the article noted. The article noted that poverty is the greatest predictor of health disparities, with levels of depression and toothlessness five times greater among those living below the federal poverty level compared with those living above 400 percent of the poverty level. In 2009, the cost of total-personal health care was $2.1 trillion, nearly double the amount recorded in 2000. 

Read more on the Kaiser Family Foundation website. Read the article on the Bloomberg website. Download the complete report (pdf).

Updated Factsheet Available: HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men

Posted: May 30, 2012

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2009, MSM accounted for 61% of all new HIV infections, and MSM with a history of injection drug use (MSM-IDU) accounted for an additional 3% of new infections. That same year, young MSM accounted for 69% of new HIV infections among persons aged 13–29 and 44% of infections among all MSM. At the end of 2009, an estimated 441,669 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the US were MSM or MSM-IDU. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released an updated factsheet that lists data related to HIV among Gay and Bisexual Men, along with the prevention challenges that exist.

Fast Facts

  • Gay and bisexual men are more severely affected by HIV than any other group in the United States (US).
  • Among all gay and bisexual men, blacks/African Americans bear the greatest disproportionate burden of HIV.
  • From 2006 to 2009, HIV infections among young black/African American gay and bisexual men increased 48%.

Read more on the CDC website. Download the factsheet (pdf).

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Section on Diversity and Health Disparities

Posted: May 28, 2012

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's (NIAAA) website has a section on Diversity and Health Disparities that list statistics on disparities in patterns of drinking, alcohol and health consequences:

Patterns of drinking
In general, Hispanics and Blacks have higher rates of complete abstinence from alcohol than non-Hispanic whites and other groups. But those who do drink consume more alcohol and often have higher rates of binge drinking.

Alcohol and health consequences

  • Cirrhosis death rates are very high among white Americans of Hispanic origin, lower among non-Hispanic Blacks, and lower still among non-Hispanic whites.
  • Hispanics and Blacks have a higher risk for developing alcohol-related liver disease than whites.
  • Alcohol-related traffic deaths are many times more frequent among Native Americans or Alaska natives than among other minorities.
  • Self-reported rates of DUI are highest among mixed race and Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
  • Hispanics are overrepresented among drunk drivers and DUI-related fatalities.
  • Between 2001 and 2005, alcohol played a role in 11.7 percent of all Native American deaths, which is more than twice the rates of the general American public.

Read more on the NIAAA website.

Study Finds Genetic Marker in African Americans That Influences Smoking Habits

Posted: May 24, 2012

Researchers at Stanford University, who conducted the largest study to date of African-Americans’ genetics and smoking behavior, have found a genetic marker that influences smoking habits. The marker is correlated with how many cigarettes per day a person smokes.The study titled Genome-wide meta-analyses of smoking behaviors in African Americans was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

The researchers studied a gene that has been found in previous studies to predict smoking behavior in people of European descent. The specific genetic marker within that gene that they focused on varies in people of different ethnicities, Health Canal reports. The study included data from more than 32,000 African Americans.

“Knowing that this gene is important in different ancestral groups really points to its importance and suggests it as a target for drug discovery and development,” lead researcher Sean David, MD said in a news release. He noted that African Americans tend to take up smoking at a later age than those of European descent, and smoke fewer cigarettes daily. They have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, however. They are also less likely to quit smoking.

A  study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November 2011 found almost 76 percent of African-American smokers wanted to quit in 2010. While 59 percent tried, only 3 percent were successful, the lowest rate among races and ethnicities measured by the CDC.

Read more on the Partneship at website. Read the full study.

Mental Health Service Use Disparities in Low-Income, Ethnic-Minority Older Adults

Posted: May 23, 2012

Older American Mental Health Week is May 19-25. In a previous year the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force had co-sponsored a congressional briefing, to honor Older Americans Mental Health Week, on addressing health disparities among diverse older Americans. APA member Patricia A. Areán, PhD, presented results of her research demonstrating the benefits of integrating mental health in primary care to reduce health disparities among older adults while also lowering costs compared with usual care. James S. Jackson, PhD, discussed findings from his research showing complex patterns of physical and mental health outcomes over the life-course related to race, ethnicity, nativity, gender, and cultural differences. Areán and Jackson were joined on the panel by Laurie M. Young, PhD, of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who discussed health disparities in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders. Areán and Jackson also met with key Senate offices to discuss recommendations for reducing disparities among our nation's elders.

Read more on the APA website. Read more on Mental Health America's website.

View Dr. Areán's presentation (pdf). View Dr. Jackson's presentation (pdf)

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