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What is Health Inequity?

Health Inequity

Disparities in health that are a result of systemic, avoidable and unjust social and economic policies and practices that create barriers to opportunity.

Health Equity

The absence of differences in health between groups with differential exposure to those social and economic policies and practices that create barriers to opportunity.

Health Disparities

“Differences in health status among distinct segments of the population including differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, or living in various geographic localities.”

Social Determinants of Health

Those inter-related social and economic factors that influence health. 

Social Justice

Social justice is the equitable distribution of social, economic and political resources, opportunities, and responsibilities and their consequences.


Why is Virginia Promoting This National Initiative?

Virginia ranked by population is the 12th largest state in the United States with a population of 7 million residents, 28% of whom belong to racial/ethnic minority groups. Virginia’s minority and low income populations experience multiple inequities in risk behavior and disease incidence, prevalence, and mortality:

  • In 2005, 18.8% of Black Virginians lived below the federal poverty level, compared to 11.8% of Latinos, 9.9% of American Indians, and 7.6% of Whites.  Poverty rates increase from 7.8% in the largest metropolitan counties to 17.6% in the smallest, most rural counties in Virginia.
  • In 2005, of the 10 counties with the highest hospital discharge rates for ambulatory sensitive conditions, nine were rural.
  • In 2005, the infant mortality rate for Black Virginians was 2.4 times greater than for White Virginians.
  • In 2004, the life expectancy for White Virginians was 78.6 years, compared to 73.4 years for African Americans (Virginia Center for Health Statistics, 2006).
  • Latinos reported the highest prevalence of asthma in the state in 2003 (10.5% vs. 7.0% for Whites), while African American males had an asthma mortality rate twice that of White males and African American females had an asthma mortality rate 1.6 times higher than White females.
  • In 2003, a diagnosis of diabetes was reported among 13.7% of the lowest income Virginians, compared to 4.5% of those with the highest income.
  • Teen pregnancy rates by race/ethnicity for 15-17 years olds were highest among Hispanic females (52.1/1000 births) and black females (49.7/1,000 live births) compared with White females (19.6/1000 births).
  • Hispanics are also the most likely Virginia residents to lack health insurance (27.4%).  
  • Virginia’s 2003 BRFSS data shows that smoking prevalence is higher among certain groups: men, people who have a low income, people who are less educated and young adults.
  • The southwest region has the highest cigarette smoking rate of 27% compared to the northern region which has the lowest rate of 17% (BRFSS).
  • Black males and females have the highest mortality rates from cardiovascular disease (CVD)at all ages, except 85 and older.
  • In 2005, African-Americans accounted for 20% of the state’s population, but 60% of the cases of HIV.  In the same year, Latinos accounted for 6% of the population, but 9 % of the cases of HIV.  In comparison, Whites accounted for 74% of the population, but 30% of the cases (VDH Division of Disease Prevention, HIV/STD Annual Statistics, 2005).
  • 11% of Virginia residents over age five speak a primary language other than English.  Of this population....
  • 41% speak English "less than very well"
  • 21% live in "linguistically isolated households" (households where no member 14 years old and over speaks "only English" or ...speaks English "very well")
  • 10.1% of Virginians are considered foreign born.

Last Updated: 03-29-2013

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