Health Disparities among the Hispanic population in the US
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), health disparities relate to the differences commonly arising between different demographic groups of individuals (2013). Health disparities tend to affect the frequency with which diseases challenge a given group, the number of people getting sick as well as how often people from a group suffer death as a result of such diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hispanic or Latino population makes up about 17% of the total US population. Hispanic populations in the US include people from Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican central or South American origin or Spanish cultures irrespective of race.
Health disparities among the Hispanic population arise from a diverse array of diseases, environmental exposures, social determinants, income, disability status, education, and behavioral risk attribute as well as many related social factors. This paper seeks to give a general discussion of the health disparities associated with the Hispanic population and also provide a in depth discussion of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the Hispanic people. This paper will also critique a current pharmacological treatment strategy as well as describe the impact on the overall health of this population. This essay will also explain how, socio-economic factors, cultural values and traditional practices and beliefs contribute to Latino health disparities.
Overview of health disparities among the Hispanic population in the US
The CDC published the Health Disparities & Inequalities Report-United States (CHDIR) in 2013. This report offered valuable insights as to the health disparities consistent with Hispanic populations in the US. Significant Health Disparities noted included the increase in obesity cases among Mexican American female adults, diabetes, periodontitis, HIV infection rates and prevalence of teenage births. The report also provided that teenage females aged from 15 to 19 years projected a birth rate five times higher in comparison to non Hispanic populations. It was also noted that a huge percentage of Hispanic men aged from 18 to 64 years have no health insurance in comparison with non Hispanic white populations. Few Hispanics were noted to have no information on the blood pressure levels especially among the vulnerable group aged between 50 and 75 years.
The report also noted that a huge percentage of the Hispanic population failed to complete their high school education and were subject to income levels bellow the accepted federal poverty line in comparison with non Hispanic whites. In 2010, the report notes that adult Hispanics aged between 18 and 64 years remained unemployed in comparison to non Hispanic white populations. During the same year, the report notes that workers from the Hispanic population had employment contracts in high risk occupations as compared to the white population.
HIV/AIDS among the Hispanic population in the US
According to Vega, Rodriguez & Gruskin (2009), HIV/ Aids mortality is a narrowing disparity among the Hispanic populations. As much as this is a narrowing disparity, HIV/AIDS remains the fourth most leading death cause among Hispanic adults aged between 35 and 44 years. HIV/ AIDS is also a top ten leading death cause among Hispanics aged from 15 to 54 years. Among the Hispanic population, Puerto Ricans are most affected by high HIV infection rates. According to Vega, Rodriguez & Gruskin (2009), HIV/AIDS related deaths have decreased significantly in the past two decades though the rate of HIV/AIDS mortality is still high in comparison to the white population in the US. For every 100,000 Hispanics, 4.7 % die from HIV/AIDS related complication compare to 1.8% among the same number of the whites in the US population.
In 2006, the US Hispanic population stood at 13% and the number of new HIV infections stood at 18%. Of the 18%, 19% were of the male gender while 16% were of the female gender (Chen, Gallant & Page, 2012). The HIV infections prevalence rate among the white population was four times lower than that of the Hispanic population. These new HIV cases affected the young Hispanic population especially among the gay populations.
It has been noted that low education levels, low income brackets and language barriers presented negative challenges towards attempts to inform the Hispanic population on HIV infection prevention and testing (Prado & Pantin, 2011). Most of the infected Hispanics tend to have misconceptions with regard to treatment and prevention services stemming from perceived discrimination.
Barriers to cultural competency
There are a number of diverse factors closely associated with health disparities consistent with Hispanic populations in the US. These include socio-economic factors, tradition practices and beliefs as well as cultural values.
A disproportionate population of the Hispanic population lives below the US federal poverty line. The huge numbers of people in this group living in poverty have a poor access to vital health care provision services. They are unable to acquire basic medical care, health insurance, and prescription medicine (Sfudin, 2013). As such, they are prone to poor preventative care and more so a high prevalence rate of preventable hospitalization cases. In 2011, it is estimated that over 30% of the Hispanic population was uninsured.
Hispanic traditional practices, beliefs, and cultural values also contribute to the Hispanic group’s health disparities. According to Sfudin (2013), this group is the least likely to visit or keep to a doctors appointment among the different minority groups in he US. Cultural values of this group offer perceptions that they are the most health group in the American population thus no need for medical advice from professional medical practitioners. Therefore, Hispanics normally wait until the last moment when they are completely sick to seek medical attention. This misconception of preventative healthcare leads to a high mortality rate among the Hispanic populations.
The CHDIR has identified the specific need of the Hispanic population in the US in an effort to eliminate contemporary disparities. Efforts have been made to enhance surveillance on the Hispanic population, analysis, and more so reporting in an effort to employ identification as well as application working strategies in an attempt to appraise the group’s health quality (Sfudin, 2013).
For instance, the Avance Center for the Advancement of Immigrant/Refugee Health has been established at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services to cater for Hispanic refuges and migrants (Sfudin, 2013). Through administrative, training, research and education, the center seeks to appraise the community’s overall health status.
To enable success of such programs, it has been noted that the Hispanic population need to minimize incidences relative to risky behaviors, case management for the high risk young adults, struggling families as well as avail friendly counseling centers.
The Hispanic population is the US’s most rapidly growing minority group. Many people are aware and understand the manner with which socioeconomic factors, cultural values and traditional practices and beliefs affect this group. However, little is known among the US general population as to how health disparities negatively affect the US Latino population. In this paper, the challenges facing this community have been highlighted and discussed and more so proposals as to how the government and other health industry stakeholders are working to eliminate prevalent disparities.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Minority Health: Hispanic or Latino Populations. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/populations/REMP/hispanic.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Health Disparities in HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs, and TB: Hispanics/Latinos. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/healthdisparities/Hispanics.html
Chen, N. E., Gallant, J. E. & Page, K. R. (2012). A systematic review of HIV/AIDS survival and delayed diagnosis among Hispanics in the United States. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 14(1), 65-81.
National Institutes of Health. (2013). Health Disparities. Retrieved from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthdisparities.html
Prado, G. & Pantin, H. (2011). Reducing substance use and HIV health disparities among Hispanic youth in the USA: The Familias Unidas program of research. Intervencion psicosocial, 20(1), 63.
Sfudin. (2013). The Truth behind Latino Health Disparities. Retrieved from: http://publichealthonline.gwu.edu/truth-latino-health-disparities/
William A. Vega, W. A., Rodriguez, M. A. & Gruskin, E. (2009). Health Disparities in the Latino Population. Epidemiol Rev (2009) 31 (1): 99-112.