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Este pagina en espanol Minority Health Gap Widens in North Carolina

Release Date: September 24, 2010
Contact: Julie Henry, 919-707-5053

WINSTON-SALEM – State Health Director Jeff Engel told health advocates today that addressing the disparities between the health status of racial and ethnic minorities and that of whites in North Carolina must continue to be a top priority.

“North Carolina is currently ranked 37th in the nation for our overall health status,” said Engel.  “Minorities represent a growing part of the state’s population.  It is critical that we close the gaps in minority health outcomes if we expect to reach our goals for a healthier North Carolina.”

Engel spoke at a meeting of leaders in government, academic research and philanthropy convened by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to examine current research and discuss opportunities for partnerships to eliminate disparities and work toward equality in health. 

“This is truly an exciting movement for North Carolina,” said Karen McNeil-Miller, president of KBR.  “This convening will be a significant step forward in shining a light on and ultimately correcting systemic health issues."

According to the 2010 Minority Health Report Card, published by the N.C. Division of Public Health, minorities continue to experience higher rates of cancer deaths, chronic disease, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, HIV infection and fatal injury rates than whites.  Minority groups represented in the report include African Americans/Black, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latino.  Data in the report comes from a variety of sources, including the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a monthly telephone survey of adults across the state. 

Key findings in the Report Card include: 

  • More African Americans died from heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and diabetes in 2009 than any other ethnic group.  Among American Indians, deaths from kidney disease and diabetes are still disproportionately high, compared to whites and Hispanics.
  • In 2009, the HIV infection rate for Hispanics was nearly four times the rate for whites, while new cases among African Americans were more than seven times the rate for whites.
  • While teen pregnancy rates have declined overall since the report card was initiated in 2003, rates among Hispanics in 2009 were nearly four times that of whites, while African American rates were twice that of whites. 
  • Obesity rates continue to rise, along with high blood pressure.  African Americans and American Indians in North Carolina were less likely than whites to engage in physical exercise, less likely to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day, and more likely to be obese.

The complete report and accompanying fact sheets are available at the State Center for Health Statistics website.