April is National Minority Health Month! We join the US Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health in recognizing the health disparities that continue to affect diverse communities across the United States. Ample research suggests that communities of color in the United States face barriers to health and greater health disparities when compared to white communities, including availability and affordability of healthy food, incidence of diabetes, rates of HIV infection, access to healthcare, and the use and abuse of tobacco and alcohol, just to name a few.
The stress of our nation’s history of racism and exclusion also impacts our communities’ health. Studies examining the role of social and biological stress on health suggests a link between socioeconomic status and ethnic disparities in stress and health. Our diverse elders have survived Jim Crow, redlining, WWII internment, unfair and unsafe working conditions, inadequate healthcare, deportation, and incarceration, among others, which has no doubt impacted their health and wellbeing in their later years.
Discrimination and health disparities impact our LGBT elders, too. As detailed in a recent article in The Advocate, nearly one-quarter of adults who are LGBT say that they have been unfairly stopped, searched, questioned, physically threatened or abused by the police, and a third say they have been unfairly not hired for a job. Other forms of discrimination reported by LGBT respondents include day-to-day discrimination such as being threatened or harassed, receiving poorer service than others, or being treated with less courtesy or respect.
All of this is to say that the Diverse Elders Coalition values the health of our communities and is working at the grassroots and at the policymaker levels to eliminate the disparities that our elders of color, American Indian/Alaska Native elders, and LGBT elders fight against every day. The work of the Diverse Elders Coalition and our five member groups around HIV and aging, healthcare reform, immigration and digital storytelling all support the health and wellbeing of our communities. We want all of our elders – and future generations of elders – to live long, happy, healthy lives.
Join the HHS Office of Minority Health for an online Health Equity forum, this Thursday, April 7th at 1:30pm EDT to learn more about the health disparities facing our communities, and stay tuned to our blog, Facebook, and Twitter for more ways we’re commemorating National Minority Health Month.