BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Health and Health Disparities

“Health Equity exists when all people have a fair and just opportunity to be healthy – especially those who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantage, historical injustice, and other avoidable systemic inequalities that are often associated with social categories of race, gender, ethnicity, social position, sexual orientation and disability.”

Disparities in Health and Health Care: 5 Key Questions and Answers

Understanding BIPOC Health 

Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) often suffer from poor health outcomes due to racism, socioeconomic disadvantage, historical injustice, and other avoidable systemic inequalities that are perpetuated both purposefully and unintentionally.

The Office of Minority Health is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.

Indigenous (American Indian/Alaska Native)

Health: It is significant to note that American Indians/Alaska Natives frequently contend with issues that prevent them from receiving quality medical care. These issues include cultural barriers, geographic isolation, inadequate sewage disposal, and low income.  Some of the leading diseases and causes of death among AI/AN are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries (accidents), diabetes, and stroke. American Indians/Alaska Natives also have a high prevalence and risk factors for mental health and suicide, unintentional injuries, obesity, substance use, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), teenage pregnancy, diabetes, liver disease, and hepatitis.

Asian American

Health:  9.6 percent of Asian Americans as compared to 9.0 percent of non-Hispanic whites, live at the poverty level.  Asian Americans contend with numerous factors which may threaten their health. Some negative factors are infrequent medical visits, language and cultural barriers, and lack of health insurance. Asian Americans are most at risk for the following health conditions: cancer, heart disease, stroke, unintentional injuries (accidents), and diabetes. Asian Americans also have a high prevalence of the following conditions and risk factors: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, smoking, tuberculosis, and liver disease.

Black/African American

Health: In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 21.2 percent of non-Hispanic blacks in comparison to 9.0 percent of non-Hispanic whites were living at the poverty level. In 2019, the unemployment rate for non-Hispanic blacks was twice that of non-Hispanic whites (7.7 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively).  According to Census Bureau projections, the 2020 life expectancies at birth for blacks are 77.0 years, with 79.8 years for women, and 74.0 years for men. For non-Hispanic whites the projected life expectancies are 80.6 years, with 82.7 years for women, and 78.4 years for men. The death rate for Blacks/African Americans is generally higher than whites for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide.

Hispanic/Latinx

Health:  In 2019, the unemployment rate for Hispanics was 5.1, as compared to 3.7 for non-Hispanic whites. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 17.2 percent of Hispanics in comparison to 9.0 percent of non-Hispanic whites were living at the poverty level.  Hispanic health is often shaped by factors such as language/cultural barriers, lack of access to preventive care, and the lack of health insurance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited some of the leading causes of illness and death among Hispanics, including heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries (accidents), stroke, and diabetes. Some other health conditions and risk factors that significantly affect Hispanics are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV/AIDS, obesity, suicide, and liver disease. 

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Pacific Islanders/Native Hawaiians

Health:  In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 14.8 percent of Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, in comparison to 9.0 percent of non-Hispanic whites, were living at the poverty level. In 2019, the unemployment rate for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders was 5.9 percent, as compared to 3.7 percent for non-Hispanic whites.  It is significant to note that in comparison to other ethnic groups, Native Hawaiians/ Pacific Islanders have higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity. This group also has less access to cancer prevention and control programs. Some leading causes of death among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders include: cancer, heart disease, unintentional injuries (accidents), stroke and diabetes. Some other health conditions and risk factors that are prevalent among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders are hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.

Reading and Resources

Oppression, marginalization and discrimination against BIPOC individuals creates barriers to being financially secure, mentally healthy, physically healthy, well-housed and well-nourished.  Below are some resources and information about some of these barriers as well as strategies that can help.

Financially Secure

Mentally Healthy

Physically Healthy

Well-housed

Well-nourished