Health of All Americans Has Improved, Report Says
January 25, 2002
Americans of all ages and in every racial and ethnic group are in better health today than a decade ago, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. But that does not mean that minorities are in the same state of health as white Americans, the report cautions. In fact, a health "gap" still exists.
- The report revealed that age-adjusted death rates for all groups except American Indians and Alaskan natives were lower in 1998 than in 1990.
- The levels of disparity between the health of minorities and the total U.S. population have narrowed only slightly for about half of the health conditions examined in the report -- and actually widened substantially in the areas of work-related injury deaths, motor vehicle crash deaths and suicides.
- Over the 1990-1998 period, death rates for Hispanics showed the greatest decline, 13.3 percent -- compared to 6.4 percent for whites and 9.5 percent for blacks.
- The largest declines in deaths due to particular common diseases among groups were a 17 percent decline among Hispanics in the heart disease category, a 13.4 percent decline among Hispanics in lung cancer deaths and an 18.7 percent decline among whites from breast cancer.
Officials said blacks showed a significant decrease in incidences of syphilis -- with an 88 percent drop from 1990 to 1998. The overall syphilis rate fell by 87 percent.
Yet syphilis infection rates among blacks in 1998 remained extraordinarily high -- 16.9 cases per 100,000 population. The rate for whites was 0.5 per 100,000.
Source: Joyce Howard Price, "Minorities' Health Improving, But Gap Persists, Report Shows," Washington Times, January 25, 2002; based on Kenneth G.Keppel, Jeffrey N.Pearcy and Diane K.Wagener, "Trends in Racial and Ethnic-Specific Rates for the Health Status Indicators: United States,1990 -98," Statistical Notes, Number 23, January 2002, National Center for Health Statistics.
For text of report
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