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CoastLine: Health Disparities Among Minorities As Stark As They Were Nearly 20 Years Ago

Brian K. Slack at Landover / flickr

If you’re a person of color or ethnic minority, LGBTQ, a veteran, or a person with a disability, you might face a more dire cancer prognosis or struggle more with chronic disease than someone not in these groups.

That’s according the National Institutes of Health. 

If you’re female, you no longer hold a big lead in longevity over the men in your life.  In the decade leading up to 2014, the gap between life expectancy for men vs. women decreased from 5.1 years to 4.8 years.  While that might sound positive, it’s not.  It shows a rise in mortality rates for women for a host of reasons.  That’s a look at the national picture.

In New Hanover County, health officials point to a startling health disparity between the black and white populations.  In 2015, African American babies had a mortality rate of 13.5 per 1,000 live births; that’s more than three times higher than that of their white counterparts.  

That’s an obvious and easy-to-track health disparity, but we’re learning that other factors contribute to health outcomes that are not as obvious on the surface.  And the local medical community is working to shrink those disparities in health outcome between rich and poor, people of color and people who are white, LGBTQ. 

Dr. Karen Isaacs specializes in Family Medicine.  She is a faculty member in the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program.