A recent narrative review sheds light on the racial disparities in multiple sclerosis, focusing on Black and Hispanic populations in the United States. The study recommends targeted research and interventions for these historically underrepresented groups.
- Multiple sclerosis affects Black and Hispanic populations differently in terms of incidence, disease course, and response to treatment.
- There are disparities in access to healthcare and participation in clinical trials among these minority groups.
- Clinicians need to be aware of these disparities to provide more equitable care and should advocate for increased representation of minority populations in clinical research.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) has been traditionally studied predominantly in White individuals, potentially leading to gaps in understanding its impact on minority populations. A narrative review published in the journal Biomedicines explored the disparities in MS among Black and Hispanic individuals. The paper provides evidence for differing disease incidence, progression, and response to treatment, underscoring the urgency to address these inequities.
Genetic Factors and Disease Course in Minority Populations
The review shows that Black people are diagnosed with MS at higher rates and at younger ages compared to their White counterparts. Black patients also tend to have a more aggressive disease course, with faster progression and higher disability levels. Genetic differences, such as variations in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex genotypes, may contribute to these disparities. Understanding these genetic predispositions may be helpful for tailoring treatment and management strategies for minority patients.
Healthcare Access and Representation in Clinical Trials
Another significant concern raised is the lower representation of Black and Hispanic populations in clinical trials for MS treatments. The limited data suggest that some drugs may have varying efficacy and tolerability among different racial and ethnic groups. This lack of representation hinders the development of inclusive therapeutic strategies and worsens existing health disparities.
Translating Findings into Practice and Next Steps in Research
The findings of this review have significant implications for healthcare providers. Clinicians should be aware of the differing incidence rates and disease course in minority populations and should work towards delivering more personalized, equitable care. In addition, healthcare professionals may be key players in advocating for increased representation of these groups in clinical research. In that way, the healthcare community may better understand disease mechanisms and treatment responses in these populations.
Moore, M. Z., Perez, C. A., Hutton, G. J., Patel, H., & Cuascut, F. X. (2023). Health Disparities in Multiple Sclerosis among Hispanic and Black Populations in the United States. Biomedicines, 11(4), 1227. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines11041227