African Americans are living longer. The death rate for African Americans has declined about 25% over 17 years, primarily for those aged 65 years and older. Even with these improvements, new analysis shows that younger African Americans are living with or dying of many conditions typically found in white Americans at older ages. The difference shows up in African Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s for diseases and causes of death. When diseases start early, they can lead to death earlier. Chronic diseases and some of their risk factors may be silent or not diagnosed during these early years. Health differences are often due to economic and social conditions that are more common among African Americans than whites. For example, African American adults are more likely to report they cannot see a doctor because of cost. All Americans should have equal opportunities to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
Public health professionals can:
Use proven programs to reduce disparities and barriers to create opportunities for health.
Work with other sectors, such as faith and community organizations, education, business, transportation, and housing, to create social and economic conditions that promote health starting in childhood.
Link more people to doctors, nurses, or community health centers to encourage regular and follow-up medical visits.
Develop and provide trainings for healthcare professionals to understand cultural differences in how patients interact with providers and the healthcare system.