According to U.S. Census Bureau population, there are roughly 54 million Latinos living in the United States, representing approximately 17 percent of the U.S. total population, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. And, the U.S. Hispanic population for 2060 is estimated to reach 128.8 million, constituting approximately 31 percent of the U.S. population.
Millions of these Latinos are benefiting from coverage and protections made possible by the Affordable Care Act. 8.8 million Latinos with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no cost-sharing.
However, approximately 1 in 4 Latinos are still uninsured, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and with Latinos suffering from certain illnesses at higher rates than non-Hispanic white Americans, this translates into big challenges when it comes to health prevention and intervention.
Some of the most common chronic conditions affecting Hispanics in the U.S. are: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, chronic liver disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, and influenza/pneumonia, to name a few.
Cancer replaced heart disease as the number one killer of Hispanics in the United States during 2012. Overall, cancer deaths are responsible for approximately 21.1 percent of deaths in the U.S. Hispanic community annually.
According to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Minority Health Research, the study found that prostate and breast cancer were the types of cancer that most affect Latino men and Latina women (29 percent), and lung and bronchus (18 percent) and breast cancer (15 percent) were the cancers that caused the highest rates of death among Latinos.
In general, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Hispanic adults are less likely to have coronary heart disease than non-Hispanic White adults. However, among Hispanic adults age 20 and older, 48.3 percent of men and 32.4 percent of women have Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which can be attributed to f high rates of obesity, high cholesterol, or tobacco use.
Hispanics are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. According to a study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, it found that the prevalence of total diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) among all Hispanic/Latino groups was roughly 16.9 percent for both men and women, compared to 10.2 percent for non-Hispanic whites. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic adults are 1.7 times as likely to have diabetes as whites and are 1.5 times more likely to die from diabetes.
Knowing how our community is affected by just a few of the long list of chronic conditions that affects many in the US, the question is: What can we do to reduce these disparities?
Health is influenced by many factors—poor health, disease risk factors, limited access to health care because of social, economic, and environmental disadvantages— but it is also about prevention or to ayudarse a sí mismo as much as you can. This means maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and taking part in preventive health (if you are lucky enough to have health insurance to cover it) to help stop illness before it happens.
HOWEVER, it also means working together as a community—leaders, government officials, policymakers, influencers, public health professionals—to improve access to health care, implement effective policies and programs that provide key preventative services, increase access to affordable health care to our community, and to raise awareness to provide information and resources on how we can stay healthy.
Jennifer Lubrani – @meningioma