Racial Bias In Healthcare Affects Black Women’s Health

Current research shows that racial biases in healthcare treatment is real and contributes greatly to the mortality and health disparities among people of color. In fact, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) reported that minorities are less likely than white people to be given appropriate cardiac care, to receive kidney dialysis or transplants, and to receive the best treatments for stroke, cancer, or AIDS. Blacks have more undetected diseases, higher disease and illness rates (from infectious conditions such as tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases), more chronic conditions (such as hypertension and diabetes), and shorter life expectancy than do whites. 

Black women’s health in the US is in a state of crisis and sexism as well as racism proves to be a major factor. Black women are less likely to be screened for breast & cervical cancer before it worsens and are less likely than white women to receive radiation therapy in conjunction with a mastectomy. The breast cancer death rate for Black women ages 45-64 is 60 percent higher than for white women. 

Despite socioeconomic status, education, and other factors, Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy complications as white mothers. The mortality rate due to pregnancy complications for black mothers was also more than twice the rate for either white mothers or mothers of other racial groups. Sixty-six percent of all cases of AIDS reported among women were among black women. HIV/AIDS related illness is the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-34. 

Thirty-two percent of black women feel they’ve been discriminated against in physicians’ offices. Unfortunately, less than 6% of U.S. physicians are people of African descent so training doctors in implicit bias is needed to allow for equity in healthcare.