February Health Equity Link

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HHS Office of Minority Health


February 2024  |  View as a webpage

Health Equity Link

In this Issue

Black History Month


Black History Month is observed every February to celebrate the accomplishments of Black and African Americans. It is an opportunity to recognize the many ways Black history, culture, leadership, and innovation have influenced all facets of life in the United States. 

Throughout February, OMH will highlight resources, programs, and events that focus on improving the health of Black communities through enhanced health literacy, culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services, and community-based interventions.  

This year, The HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is celebrating Black History Month by reaffirming its commitment to Advancing Better Health Through Better Understanding for Black and African American individuals and communities by ensuring connections to culturally appropriate healthcare services, information, and resources. When patients are provided with culturally and linguistically appropriate information, they are better able to create healthier outcomes for themselves and their communities.    

The national theme, provided by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALAH), is "African Americans and the Arts." This theme highlights the many impacts Black Americans have had on visual arts, music, cultural movements, and more.  

In honor of this year’s national theme, the OMH Knowledge Center has developed a reading list focused on the connection between art and wellness in Black communities. Check out the reading list to learn more. 

Visit the OMH Black History Month website to find more resources and information on Black and African American health, Black History Month events, and downloadable materials. 

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American Heart Month


February is American Heart Month, a time to pay special attention to understanding, preventing, and treating heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. This Heart Month, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is raising awareness of heart health in the African American community and encouraging women to focus on their cardiovascular health.  

Women in the United States, particularly Black and African American women, are experiencing unacceptable and avoidable heart-related illness and death. Cardiovascular diseases kill more than 50,000 Black women annually. According to the American Heart Association, one half of Black women in the United States have some form of cardiovascular disease, and Black women are more likely to die of heart disease at younger ages than white women. 

African American women face a high burden of negative social determinants of health, such as chronic stress related to factors like food insecurity, systematic racism, and other socioeconomic factors. These factors can prevent them from living a healthy lifestyle and controlling many heart disease risk factors. Women can reduce their heart disease risk by up to 82% through various lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, getting quality sleep, and not smoking. Download and share the Take Action for Your Heart: Get Started! fact sheet, which provides tips to protect your heart health.  

Visit the American Heart Month web page to find educational resources, social media assets, heart-healthy living tips, and more. To promote the importance of heart health, use the hashtags #HeartMonth and #OurHearts on social media and learn more about NHLBI’s Heart Truth Healthy Hearts Network. 

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National Cancer Prevention Month

cancer prevention

Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease in the United States. According to the CDC, Black and African American people have higher rates of getting and dying from many kinds of cancer. Black Americans have the highest death rate for cancer of all racial and ethnic groups. 

Black and African Americans face greater obstacles to cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survival. About 1 in 3 Black men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 Black men and 1 in 6 Black women will die from the disease. Black women have 8% lower cancer incidence than white women, but 12% higher cancer mortality. Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women even though fewer Black women are diagnosed with breast cancer than white women. Black and African Americans generally have lower rates of cancer screening which can be related to less access to care, medical mistrust, and lower likelihood of physician recommendation. 

Prevention plays a role in lowering your risk of various cancers. You can lower your risk of getting many common kinds of cancer by knowing key risk factors and making healthy choices such as:  

  • Getting the HPV vaccine and hepatitis B vaccine. 
  • Screening for various types of cancers, including breast, lung, cervical, and colorectal. 
  • Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink. 
  • Testing for hepatitis C. 
  • Avoiding tobacco.  
  • Wearing sunscreen and protective clothing in the sun.  

This National Cancer Prevention Month, learn more from the CDC about how to screen and  protect yourself from cancer. 

Learn More Más información

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

HIV awareness

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) on February 7 is a day to address the impact of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) on Black and African American communities and recognize the great progress Black communities have made in reducing HIV. This year’s theme is Engage, Educate, Empower: Uniting to End HIV/AIDS in Black Communities. 

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If HIV is not treated, it can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Black and African Americans account for a higher proportion of people estimated to be living with HIV (42%) and deaths among people with HIV (44%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the U.S. 

Black and African American communities are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial and ethnic groups. For example, according to the CDC, in 2021 Black Americans only represented approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 40% of people living with HIV. 

Today, more tools and strategies than ever are available to prevent HIV including condoms and medicines like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Testing is the only way to know if you have HIV. Use CDC’s GetTested search tool to find free, fast, and confidential HIV testing near you. Together, when we work to overcome structural barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment, and stop HIV stigma, we help reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities in Black communities. 

Visit the NBHAAD Awareness Day page for resources such as the NBHAAD logo, fact sheets, and other materials. Help spark conversations about how HIV/AIDS impacts Black and African American communities on social media by using the hashtags #NBHAAD and #StopHIVTogether.   

Learn More Más información

National Girls and Women in Sports Day

girls women sports

February 7, 2024, marks the 38th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). Join Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) in this nationwide celebration that inspires girls and women to play and be active while realizing their full power. NGWSD honors the achievements of girls and women in sports and continues to acknowledge the power of sports to unlock their limitless potential.  

African American women experience poor health outcomes from common health conditions (obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, asthma, and cancer) that are associated with insufficient regular physical activity. Only 34% of African American women achieve the recommended levels of physical activity as recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 

The obesity rate in non-Hispanic Black girls (24%) is more than two times that of non-Hispanic white girls (10%). Physical inactivity and excessive weight gain that begin during childhood often continue into adulthood, resulting in long-term health consequences. Encouraging and supporting Black girls and women in sports can lead to improved health outcomes in the future.  

The racial and ethnic disparities in physical inactivity underscore the need to address barriers to physical activity such as lack safe spaces to be active such as parks, unsafe streets with high-speed traffic and no sidewalks, lack of time, and lack of social supports. 

Communities across the country are hosting events in conjunction with the NGWSD celebration. Join the celebration by finding an event near you and sharing your story with the hashtag #NGWSD2024. Visit the WSF website to download free resources designed to help you plan, organize, promote and host your own NGWSD activities. 

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OMH Knowledge Center

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In recognition of Black History Month, the OMH Knowledge Center is sharing a collection of recent articles focusing on heart health for African Americans. The collection explores topics such as cardiovascular risk factors, the association between sickle cell anemia and coronary heart disease, and African American heart health during pregnancy.   

You can access this collection through the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog.  


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