Latinos are among the highest of ethnic groups affected by an array of diseases, and access to high quality food and health care. The difference in specific populations is the presence of disease, poor health outcomes, or access to health care is known is collectively known as a health disparity.
Health disparities are visible in areas where there is limited socioeconomic growth and areas affected by poverty. They creep up in supermarkets/bodegas, the primary oasis for nourishment, with the sale of nutritionally deficient commercial foods, a major symptom of food deserts. (You can refer to my BL blog, Are you living in a Food Desert? for more on food deserts).
Health inequalities also show themselves in the presence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), cancer, infant mortality, chronic diseases: asthma, the flu, heart disease, diabetes, poverty, and obesity.
Here are some examples of health disparities:
Fellow Being Latino blogger Nicolle Morales Kern cited in her recent blog, Talking About HIV/AIDS, that, in 2007 Latinos in the U.S. accounted for 19% of people living with AIDS, making us the third highest affected demographic .
At 21.5%, Latinos make up the second largest population in the US living in poverty. Blacks are at the top of the national rate, at 24.3%.
Hunger is an especially pervasive issue in Latino families. More than one in four Latino households—26.9 percent—struggles to put food on the table, compared to 14.6 percent of all households.
Due to a lack of translation and interpretation services in many areas that service Latinos, patients are misdiagnosed, under- or over-treated, or their medical history is reported inaccurately.
There’s hope! Model programs such as Salud America! a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), support research on environmental and policy solutions to the epidemic of obesity among Latino children. That’s just one facet of the work they do towards eliminating Latino health disparities. The CDC’s REACH program was created to eliminate health disparities by identifying Action Communities (AC) that utilize culturally diverse program to improve Latino health and nutrition. To add to the CDC’s roster of community based interventions is AVANZANDO, which “focuses on enhancing the ability of community-based organizations to replicate, adapt and implement HIV Prevention Interventions that are most applicable to the community being served.”
Defining health disparities means identifying what we need to do now to enhance Latino health as a community and steps we can take together. There are hundreds of organizations at our fingertips ready to serve as advocates. Let’s clear up the blurred lines of health disparities, get healthy, and ready to see our community roll out in high definition!
References and Resources
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention – REACH Program
Salud America! – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation