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2-28-12

Minority Health

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

A number of diseases affect black Americans more than the rest of the population.  Diseases such as obesity, hypertension, coronary vascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer are more prevalent, 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.

SOUND BITE:  “I think about breast cancer – . . . when it affects African American women, it tends to be much more aggressive and it tends to be more difficult to treat.  Plus, African American women, Latinos, Native Americans have higher mortality rates from breast cancer.”

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

SOUND BITE:    “Among some people there is just difficulty getting to the doctor – something as simple as transportation or child care, because of their socio-economic status are unable to make those connections.”

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.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.