New Report Outlines Persistent Health Disparities in U.S.

Health disparities based on race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status remain a persistent problem in the U.S. despite efforts to combat them, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the January 14, 2011, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report supplement. Infant mortality remains higher among African-Americans, poor people spend more days sick than those with higher incomes, and disparities in HIV infection rates are widening, with blacks and gay/bisexual men bearing the greatest burden.

Below is the text of the report's Foreword by CDC director Thomas Frieden. The full Health Disparities and Inequalities Report is available online at

Health Disparities and Inequalities Report

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH
Director, CDC

Since 1946, CDC has monitored and responded to challenges in the nation's health, with particular focus on reducing gaps between the least and most vulnerable U.S. residents in illness, injury, risk behaviors, use of preventive health services, exposure to environmental hazards, and premature death. We continue that commitment to socioeconomic justice and shared responsibility with the release of CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities in the United States -- 2011, the first in a periodic series of reports examining disparities in selected social and health indicators.

Health disparities are differences in health outcomes between groups that reflect social inequalities. Since the 1980s, our nation has made substantial progress in improving residents' health and reducing health disparities, but ongoing racial/ethnic, economic, and other social disparities in health are both unacceptable and correctable. Some key findings of this report include:

Differences in health based on race, ethnicity, or economics can be reduced, but will require public awareness and understanding of which groups are most vulnerable, which disparities are most correctable through available interventions, and whether disparities are being resolved over time. These problems must be addressed with intervention strategies related to both health and social programs, and more broadly, access to economic, educational, employment, and housing opportunities. The combined effects of programs universally available to everyone and programs targeted to communities with special needs are essential to reduce disparities. I hope CDC's partners will use this periodic report to better understand and address disparities and help all persons in the United States live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report -- United States, 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Supplement 60: 1-116 (Free full text). January 14, 2011.