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Minority Health

Black Americans often have more health care problems than do other ethnic groups.  Their challenges include both the prevalence of certain medical conditions as well as difficulties with diagnosis and treatment. 

Diseases such as obesity, hypertension, coronary vascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer are more prevalent among black Americans, says Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese, associate professor of internal medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  He explains how one cancer is more severe in African-Americans.

“...  as far as breast cancer is concerned, it is still negatively impacts blacks more so than whites.  The same thing is true of prostate cancer, which is the number one cancer among men in the United States.  But for prostate cancer, black men get it twice as often as white men get it ...”

Dr. McNeese says most cancers in African-Americans are generally discovered at more advanced stages.  Also, stroke is more prevalent among blacks.  In addition, he explains health disparities -- how blacks are often uninsured or underinsured and face other difficulties in getting health care.

“Within my minority communities, you tend to have people who have – they’re less economically stable, and so they therefore have less health insurance or they have no private physician of their own.  They have less education about health, so some of them even when they have health insurance, they have difficulty getting to the physician.”

Dr. McNeese encourages black Americans to be more proactive in their health care.  He says they should educate themselves about their health care needs, seek out a personal physician and take advantage of the various health screenings offered in their communities.


Ruth Slottag