Disparities in Health Care Plague Minorities in Kansas
December 12, 2002
Infant mortality among blacks in Kansas is double the statewide average, and black men have the highest rates of prostate cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer, according to a study on minorities and health care released Wednesday.
The study, Minority Health Disparities in Kansas, prepared by the Kansas Health Institute and the state Department of Health and Environment, also found that although blacks comprise less than 8 percent of the state's population, they constitute almost 18 percent of the diagnosed AIDS cases.
The study's authors say language barriers, poverty, lack of insurance and access to medical providers have created a health care gap between minorities and white Kansans.
The study was released at a summit on minority health issues. It was funded by the Kansas Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study looked at minority communities in Wichita, Garden City and Kansas City, Kan.
"It is a very important summit -- that you here in Kansas may be getting jump on in regards to what is going on in the other states," former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders told the group. "You are no different from the rest of this country," Elders said.
In Kansas, the leading causes of death are related to cardiovascular health. The study documented that 30 percent of blacks and 35 percent of Native Americans report they have high blood pressure. These minority groups also die from coronary heart disease at a higher rate than the rest of the population. By contrast, Hispanics have a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease. But that is affected by the fact that the state's Hispanic population is relatively young -- their median age is 23 years compared to 35 years for the state as a whole, the study found.
Almost 100,000 Kansans cannot communicate well enough in English to share their medical histories, symptoms and health concerns with their doctors, the study said. Different minority groups participate at varying levels in public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Blacks were more likely to enroll, Hispanics the least.
12.12.02; Roxana Hegeman
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.