Evidence-based interventions at the local and national levels provide promising strategies for reducing racial and ethnic health disparities related to several conditions, including HIV infection rates, immunization coverage and motor vehicle injuries and deaths, according to a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.
The report describes CDC-led programs addressing some of the health disparities previously highlighted in Health Disparities and Inequalities reports from the agency. “Reducing and eliminating health disparities is central to achieving the highest level of health for all people,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We can close the gap when it comes to health disparities if we monitor the problem effectively and ensure that there is equal access to all proven interventions.”
Examples of successful programs include:
- The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program, provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children who might otherwise not be vaccinated because of inability to pay. After the introduction of the VFC Program, racial/ethnic disparities in childhood immunization coverage no longer exist for measles-mumps-rubella and poliovirus vaccines.
- Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) is an evidence-based HIV/STD prevention intervention developed by and for black men who have sex with men (MSM) that can lead to decreased rates of HIV infection and increased access to preventive services and treatment among MSM of color. It uses small group education and interaction to increase knowledge and change attitudes and behaviors related to HIV/STD risk among black MSM. In a randomized clinical trial, 3MV reduced participants’ high-risk sexual activity and increased rates of HIV testing. The program has been implemented in 37 states including California, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and has been adapted to serve other MSM of color.
- Several American Indian/Alaska Native tribal communities implemented tribal motor vehicle injury prevention programs, using evidence-based road safety interventions to reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths. Each tribal community showed increased use of seat belts and child safety seats, increased enforcement of alcohol-impaired driving laws, or decreased motor vehicle crashes involving injuries or deaths. Use of communication tools including billboards, radio and television media campaigns, and school and community education programs contributed to the success of the program, according to the report.
“These interventions demonstrate progress toward health equity. They show the elimination of health disparities as an achievable goal and encourage further implementation of evidence-based initiatives and interventions addressing health disparities and inequities,” said Leandris C. Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., CDC’s associate director for Minority Health and Health Equity.
The report was released during National Minority Health Month, which is held each April to raise awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities across the United States.