NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 20, 2005

African-Americans experience kidney failure at almost four times the rate of whites, according to a National Institutes of Health study, although the rate of chronic kidney disease among white and black residents is about the same.

Researchers found that as of 2003:

  • Some 996 per one million blacks experience kidney failure annually, compared with 259 per one million whites.
  • New cases of kidney failure linked with diabetes in whites younger than age 40 were at their lowest levels since the late 1980s, "in stark contrast to rates for their African-American counterparts, which have not budged," the report found.

Paul Eggers, co-director of the U.S. Renal Data System, says "African Americans have a faster rate of renal decline once they've had some kidney impairment. But when treated, they have better outcomes, probably because they've lived with impaired kidney function for a shorter period of time."

However, Krista Lentine, a kidney specialist at St. Louis University, says that black kidney disease patients are more likely to receive referrals after the disease has progressed and have delayed access to care, in large part because of financial issues.

Additionally, the researchers found:

  • The overall rate of kidney failure in the United States has increased by less than 1 percent annually since 1999.
  • In 2003, about 537,000 residents were on dialysis or received a kidney transplant, and an additional 10 million residents had early stage kidney disease, according to the report.

Source: Deborah L. Shelton, "Kidney failures greater for blacks," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 12, 2005; and "U.S. Kidney Failure Rates Stabilize, Ending a 20-Year Climb: Troubling Racial Disparities Persist, " National Institutes of Health, October 11, 2005.

For NIH text:


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