The racial disparities in SARS-CoV-2 infection rates are now well-established. Still, the complex root causes of these disparities are as challenging as ever to address, particularly within the African American community. Although research has shown that structural inequalities, especially those related to insurance coverage rates and healthcare access, majorly impact health disparities along racial and socioeconomic lines, specific guidelines on how to rectify these disparities remain elusive.
This study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, centers on a historical understanding of health inequalities experienced by the Black community as a way of gaining insight into practical solutions for this problem. A significant challenge in addressing these structural issues is how much they vary, with the researchers noting that social, economic, environmental, and other structural resources can all affect health disparities.
This historical analysis of health inequality prompts discussion of how these broader conditions can be remedied through concrete initiatives. The researchers note that a complex interplay exists between racial disparities and a wide variety of causal sources, including information channels, access to food, access to insurance, living situations that make following health guidelines more difficult, and the prevalence of comorbid conditions that exacerbate the effects and mortality rates of COVID-19.
The study concludes that diverse solutions are required to remedy the situation. They recommend using community-based and national information channels that target at-risk populations, including language translation and interpretation services, as well as more direct public health initiatives, including Medicaid expansion and encouraging African American participation in clinical trials .
Source: Kullar, R., Marcelin, J. R., Swartz, T. H., Piggott, D. A., Macias Gil, R., Mathew, T. A., & Tan, T. (2020). Racial Disparity of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in African American Communities. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 222(6), 890–893. https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiaa372