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Big differences in health for African American, Latino boys
Source: Crosscurrents from KALW News
Health disparities between men of different races are stark, according to a recent report funded by the California Endowment.
The report detailed significant health differences between black and Latino young men and boys and white young men and boys.
For example, African-American men are almost seven times more likely to contract HIV than white men. HIV rates for Latino men are more than three times higher than rates for white men.
Young black men have a homicide rate that is 16 times higher than that of white men. For Latino young men, it’s five times higher.
So why are these numbers so different across race? Concentrated poverty creates conditions for poor health. Nearly half of black and Latino fourth graders in the U.S. “attend schools that are characterized by extreme poverty,” the report says.
Concentrated poverty—living in areas where a significant portion of the population is below the poverty level—begets a number of other problems resulting in poor health.
Violence is one of those problems, as the difference in homicide rates suggests.
The stresses of living with violence inflict trauma on young people. That, in turn, makes breaking the cycle of poverty difficult, the report suggests. Young men and boys suffering from trauma are less likely to do well in school, and are therefore more likely to end up in the criminal justice system.
Health problems also result from the built environment in poor neighborhoods. Few food choices and high levels of stress lead to unhealthy eating habits. Asthma is caused by roaches, mold and dampness.
The report concludes with three models for best practices in California. The Healthy Returns Initiative connects young men on probation with mental health services. Youth Uprising is a community center in Oakland that offers young people health and mental health services. And Safe Community Partnership is a statewide program that offers services to young men at risk for gun violence. More programs like these would help ease the disparities, the report says.
Read the report here.