AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: #COVID19 (Page 2 of 2)

How the Healthcare Industry Disadvantages Minorities

Although our country is built on the principle that “all men are created equal,” this notion has yet to be completely true in modern America or our history. The disproportionate death rate from COVID-19 in Black Americans is a telltale sign of the inequities, or injustices, in place in the healthcare industry. While it’s easy to blame these inequities on higher obesity, diabetes, or hypertension rates in Black Americans, there is more to it than that.

These inequities are also very prevalent in prostate cancer mortality, as the numbers are far higher in Black men than white. This results from a multitude of factors, including that they “generally get fewer PSA screenings, are more likely to be diagnosed with later stage cancer, are less likely to have health insurance, have less access to high-quality care,” or perhaps even other factors, according to Daniel Spratt, M.D. These are all indications of structural inequality, a system of unfairness created by institutions, in our country, not just circumstantial or individual biases. 

Black and minority patients are likely to feel more comfortable with minority doctors, but unfortunately this isn’t always possible. For obvious reasons, this reduces implicit bias from the physicians. Aside from a harder time getting proper care, minorities also suffer from an unequal amount of expenses. According to a UMichigan team, “the last six months of life is $7,100 more expensive to the Medicare system for Black people, and $6,100 more expensive for Hispanics, compared with white people,” although more research must be done to determine exactly why this is. One of the root causes for these trends could be lack of nutrition. Even before the pandemic, many minority adults and children didn’t have access to nutritious foods, which plays a major role in health status. This also continues to be perpetuated by institutional racism and the vicious cycle of poverty in America. Unfortunately, many situations only worsened with the emergence of COVID-19. This is a very pressing issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later, in order to ensure the safety of many adults and children.

As we have learned in bio class, the use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is absolutely essential. Especially in urban or tightly packed communities, where COVID-19 can easily spread from person to person, masks are needed more than ever. Additionally, these communities often have high amounts of minorities, worsening their odds of becoming seriously ill. Fortunately, with the development of safe and effective vaccines, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Minority communities desperately need vaccines in order to prevent any more lives lost, and luckily distribution is gradually picking up. Although this has been a tragic year, I hope America will learn from this situation, becoming more prepared for future unpredictable scenarios and fixing the inequities prevalent in our country.

The Devastating Impact of Covid-19 on Indigenous People

For years, Indigenous people have struggled to receive access to resources and proper care. From education to jobs the Indigenous community has been neglected time and time again. Looked over in all categories.  Though there are many topics that need to be addressed regarding the Indigenous community,  I will be focusing on the large disparity in health care that Indigenous Americans and Alaska Natives receive compared to other races. I will also look at how Covid – 19 has hurt this system to the even greater extremes and what you can do to help. 

Health care in Indigenous American communities has never been at the forefront of many important decisions, and as a result has suffered tremendous neglect over the years. One of the main providers of health and medical care in Indigenous communities is Indian Health Services or the IHS. It is given to over 2 million individuals who are descendants of the 567 federally recognized tribes. It’s supposed to provide “healthy communities and quality health care systems” but it seems to be doing just the opposite. It has very little funds from the government  and with less money, less services they can provide. The large disparity in health care for Indigenous groups compared to other populations is growing by the day. Indian Americans and Alaska Natives die at much higher rates than other races and are significantly more likely to die from easily treatable diseases. There is a higher infant mortality rate about 1.5 times higher than white people. They also have a lower life expectancy, and are expected to die 4 -5 years earlier than other races in America. This inequity can be a result of the many underlying issues in the Indian American community. Some of these include poverty, lack of health insurance, less education, language barrier, no access to transportation, less healthy food options, discrimination and many more factors. They have a dwindling amount of medical doctors located on many reservations which gives even less access to proper care. Many hospitals and medical facilities are also very far away from where many people live so an emergency situation can be detrimental.  An example of this is when a man named Cody Pedersen was stabbed in the neck and the ambulance took almost two hours to arrive. He survived, but this is only one success story out of many tragic ones. 

With all the problems Indigenous communities faced before Covid – 19. The addition of the virus impacted the community immensely. According to the CDC American Indians and Alaska Natives are 5.3 times more likely to be hospitalized due to Covid. They are also 2.4 times more likely to die due to Covid-19. This is a big difference even when compared with other minorities groups. There is also a lot of data that has yet to be collected, inconsistent data, and misinterpreted data that could be an even better insight into the real struggles of the indigenous community. However, no one is making an effort to collect it. Health isn’t even the biggest problem the indigenous community faces due to Covid. The virus devastated them economically, when many were already facing poverty. Many tribal businesses were forced to close and still cant open. Many of the money earned on reservations goes back to support the community. With businesses shutting down and people having to look for work outside the reservations less profits can be contributed to the community, increasing reliance on outside organizations. This makes it really important for people who fund the native community to keep funding even after all this subsides for them to rebuild their communities. 

It has been far too long since indigenous people looked over and neglected in our country. Although they are a small percentage of our country they are still lives that need the same services as everyone else. It all starts with awareness. Once you become aware and start to care that this is happening to others it makes a big difference. The more people care, the more change that can be enacted. Native societies need to be just as visible as other races. We need to recognize Native people, help Native people, and protect Native people.

Here are some more ways to help:

Partnership with Native Americans

Indian Health and Human Services

How to Support Indigenous Communities



Health Inequality: 10 studies exposing the truth in racial disparities within the health care system

“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal”- Thomas Jefferson (Declaration of Independence)

This statement written almost 300 years ago is what the United States of America bases most of its legitimacy on. Note the words “all” and “equal” within this statement. However, despite being one of America’s most precious documents, does it speak the truth? Are all men and women living in America created equal? We live in a time where institutional racism has become one of the most driving issues. Within the healthcare and education systems, among other things, racial disparities mostly among the Black communities has persisted. In this article, Michigan Medicine researchers explored ten different studies in which racial disparities between Black and White Americans were present. In studying these cases, one can view institutional racism in a different and very serious light that might bring more attention to the ongoing issues within 21st century America.

1. Covid-19 

Though Black Americans are at higher risk for Covid-19 due to increase risk of hypertension, diabetes and obesity, Melissa Creary of U-M School of Public Health believes that “it’s not the fact that they have these diseases that’s causing the higher death rate because people of all races, classes and creed have these diseases.” She later states that there is a great burden of disease present in the Black population. She also believes that this is because of “structural inequity” not for other reasons like increase in chances of developing other medical diseases.

2. Prostate Cancer Mortality Higher in Black Men

This study found that societal factors and the accessibility to quality care contributes to “a 2.5 times higher prostate cancer mortality rates for Black men compared to non-Hispanic White men.” It was found that Black men get fewer PSA screenings and are more likely to be diagnosed with later stage cancer. They will also be less likely to have health insurance, low accessibility to high-quality care and other issues linked to socioeconomics. After looking more into the study through this article, it was found that Black men did not have an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer compared to White men with a similar stage of disease. The greatest disparity to Black men with prostate cancer is low accessibility to healthcare and any type of care when it comes to health issues.

3. Minority Patients benefit from Minority Doctors (match is hard to make)

Ryan Huetro who works as a family medicine physician at Michigan Medicine found that Black and Indigenous people can improve their health care by seeing doctors of their race or ethnicity. A physician may not even realize the bias they might be treating a patient with but these biases still remain. Though matching people based on races may be beneficial to one’s healthcare, it is sometimes hard to match races in one’s own community. Therefore, this is not the best solution in fixing racial disparities within the healthcare system.

4. Maternal-Infant Health impacted by racial and ethnic disparities

In this study, it was found that nearly half of all “Black, Hispanic and Indigenous women had discontinuous insurance coverage between pre-conception and after delivering their babies compared to approximately a fourth of White women.” Lindsay Admon of Michigan Medicine found that racial and ethnic disparities were prevalent within the access to preconception, prenatal and postpartum care.

5. Young African Americans with Colon Cancer

In this study it was found that there were racial disparities in treatments for young colon cancer patients. Elena Stoffel of the Cancer Genetics Clinic at the U-M Cancer Center found that these tumors found in young people and African Americans need to be looked at and compared to see if they have “molecular differences compared to the typical colorectal cancer seen in older adults.” We can look more into this topic by looking at the way cancer occurs within our cells. Cancer is caused by the changes in the DNA in our cells. We can also look our genes. Oncogenes help cells grow, divide and stay alive. Tumor suppressor genes help cell division and cause cells to die at certain times. Colon cancer can be caused by DNA mutations that switch on and off oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. This causes the cells to grow at rapid paces. By learning more about our genes and cell division, we can learn more about the molecular differences when diving into colorectal cancer.

6. Dying costs for People of Color

The U-M team found that the last six months of life is $7,100 more expensive to the Medicare system for Black people and $6,100 more expensive for Hispanics compared to White people. This is one of the many racial disparities that are present within our corrupt healthcare system.

7. Blood Pressure Associated with Racial Differences 

Michigan Medicine researchers have targeted blood pressure in order to reduce racial disparities in dementia development. They found that long term hypertension is a possible explanation for why Black people are more likely to develop dementia than White people.

8. Low coverage in Vision Devices

This study focused on the fact that Medicare does not cover low vision devices. So when looking at White adults age 65 and older, the odds of using a low vision device were 17% lower in Black adults. Joshua Ehrlich found that low vision services improve the quality of life and equitable access to these services is a major challenge.

9. ACA makes Health Insurance Access more equal, but gaps still remain

The Affordable Care Act is a reform law enacted in March 2010 and can also be known as “Obamacare.” It had three main goals which was to make health insurance more affordable and more available, expand Medicaid, and support innovative medical care delivery methods to lower costs of health care. However, though it has achieved aspects of those goals, Black and Hispanic Americans are still less likely than White Americans to have health coverage and will ultimately avoid care because of high costs.

10. Lack of Stable Food Supply that can Impact the Health Conditions

Prior to Covid-19, many adults still struggle with food insecurity and after Covid-19, things have gotten exponentially  worse. Access to nutritious foods while also maintaining good health has been a struggle more than ever. Especially during these daring times, it is crucial to ensure that certain individuals are getting food that align with their pre-existing health conditions so those conditions don’t further themselves.


Ultimately, we as Americans need to do better in working to achieve equality for all but specifically health equality for all. Everyone deserves to have the same treatment and the same fighting chance to survive the deadly diseases. Health equality is one of the most basic but challenging things that America needs to figure out fast so that more lives are not put at risk. We can do better. Any comments on this topic would be much appreciated. Thank you!

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