The reality of COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities has made health disparities in the U.S. impossible to ignore. This isn’t the first time. These communities faced an undue burden during the H1N1 flu pandemic and even the 1918 flu pandemic.
What’s more, researchers at Harvard’s School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity have grappled with these issues for years—and yet seemingly intractable problems remain.
Social determinants of health—factors such as socio-economic status, living environment, education and employment—are responsible for up to 90% of health outcomes. We know that systemic racism has resulted in less educational achievement, higher rates of poverty and inadequate housing among African Americans. These inequalities, often spanning generations, directly cause higher rates of preventable disease and shorter life expectancies.
These problems extend to members of the LGBTQ community. Research suggests that LGBTQ individuals experience health disparities linked to social stigma and discrimination, including high rates of psychiatric disorders and substance abuse. Lesbian and bisexual women face higher rates of breast cancer.