DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Ask an Expert > Public health expert on disparities of coronavirus and African Americans
By Kristin Claes Mathews /
April 13, 2020 /
Posted in: ASK AN EXPERT /
What are some of the factors that may be putting African Americans at a higher risk of contracting and dying from the coronavirus?
Several factors may contribute to this, including a lack of access to health services, and the tendency to delay seeking health care due to a lack of insurance. Inequities in daily life may also contribute to this, including, employment that requires exposure to the disease, having to use public transportation, and living in close quarters with others who may have been exposed to the disease.
What are some examples of underlying health conditions that put this population at risk, and what have you learned in your own research about managing these conditions?
Individuals who have chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure may be at greater risk — and African Americans deal with chronic disease at higher rates than white populations. I've studied health behavior among older adults in the African American community in Chicago and found that managing high blood pressure presents challenges that range from inconsistent use of medication to mistrust in hypertensive medications. This inconsistent use of medication is due to cost, transportation and simply forgetting.
What could our elected officials do, now and in the future, to address these health disparities?
These disparities have been present for many years and although they aren't likely to disappear overnight, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's formal recognition of this problem and dedication to understanding and improving health disparities among our communities of color is a great start to ensuring that these communities have the resources they need to reduce their exposure.