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Health Report: Stark Racial Disparities Persist

Some of the other striking health gaps he details include:

--Babies born to black women are up to three times as likely to die in infancy as those born to women of other races.

--More than 80 percent of all suicides are committed by whites, but young American Indian adults have the highest suicide rates by far — 25 per 100,000 population at age 21, compared with 14 for whites, 10 for blacks and 8 for Asians and Hispanics.

--Overdoses of prescription drugs now kill more Americans than overdoses of illegal drugs, the opposite of the pattern 20 years ago. Overdose death rates are now higher among whites than blacks; that trend switched in 2002, after doctors began prescribing more powerful painkillers, antidepressants and antipsychotics — more easily obtained by people with health insurance.

--High blood pressure is twice as common among blacks as whites, but the group with the least success in controlling it is Mexican-Americans.

--Compared with whites, blacks have double the rate of “preventable hospitalizations,” which cost about $7 billion a year.

--Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians, whether gay or straight, all have higher rates of new infection with the AIDS virus than whites, and the situation is getting worse for blacks and Indians. Asians have the lowest rate.

--Binge drinking — defined as five drinks for men and four for women — is increasing. In a switch from the norm for health problems, it is more common among the better-educated and more affluent, including college students. But poor people, and especially American Indians, drink much more heavily when on binges.

--Teenage pregnancy is holding steady or falling for all ethnic groups, but is still three times as common among Hispanic girls as among white girls, and more than twice as common among black girls as among whites.

This program aired on January 13, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.

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