Evidence-based interventions at the local and national levels provide promising strategies for reducing racial and ethnic health disparities related to HIV infection rates, immunization coverage, motor vehicle injuries and deaths, and smoking, according to a new report by the CDC's Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.
The report, published today as an MMWR Supplement, describes CDC-led programs addressing some of the health disparities previously highlighted in the CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Reports, CHDIR, 2011 and 2013. The CHDIR reports highlight differences in mortality and disease risk for multiple conditions related to behaviors, access to health care, and social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, age, and work.
"Reducing and eliminating health disparities is central to achieving the highest level of health for all people," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "We can close the gap when it comes to health disparities if we monitor the problem effectively and ensure that there is equal access to all proven interventions."
Examples of the programs and health disparities addressed:
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program, managed by CDC, provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children who might otherwise not be vaccinated because of inability to pay. After the introduction of the VFC Program, racial/ethnic disparities in childhood immunization coverage do not exist for measles-mumps-rubella and poliovirus vaccines.
Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) is an evidence-based HIV/STD prevention intervention developed by and for black men who have sex with men (MSM) that can lead to decreased rates of HIV infection and increased access to preventive services and treatment among MSM of color. It uses small group education and interaction to increase knowledge and change attitudes and behaviors related to HIV/STD risk among black MSM. In a randomized clinical trial, 3MV reduced participants' high-risk sexual activity and increased rates of HIV testing. The program has been implemented in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and has been adapted to serve other MSM of color.
Four American Indian/Alaska Native tribal communities implemented tribal motor vehicle injury prevention programs, using evidence-based road safety interventions to reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths. Each tribal community showed increased use of seat belts and child safety seats, increased enforcement of alcohol-impaired driving laws, or decreased motor vehicle crashes involving injuries or deaths. The effective use of communication tools –billboards, radio and television media campaigns, and school and community education programs– contributed to the success of this public health program.
"These interventions demonstrate progress toward health equity. They show the elimination of health disparities as an achievable goal and encourage further implementation of evidence-based initiatives and interventions addressing health disparities and inequities," said Leandris C. Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., CDC's associate director for Minority Health and Health Equity.
The release of this supplement coincides with 2014 National Minority Health Month, which raises awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities across the United States.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)