February marks Black History Month in the United States. It celebrates the major achievements of Black Americans throughout history. It is also a chance to learn about key moments that have not only shaped the Black experience in America, but that of the entire nation. Black History Month is often a time to look at how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. At the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), we believe one of the best ways to honor the past is to heal the present and fight for a more equitable future. Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) is the food allergy division of AAFA.
Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing many harsh truths. One of these includes the stark disparities in health care. COVID-19 has resulted in more hospital stays and deaths for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans and other minority groups in the United States. Food allergies and asthma are no different.
Black American children have higher rates of food allergies and are more likely to have allergies to multiple foods. They also visit the emergency room more and are less likely to have a current epinephrine auto-injector prescription.1 Black male children are 4.4 times more likely to have food allergies than any other group.2
Black Americans also face some of the highest asthma burden as detailed in AAFA’s report “Asthma Disparities in America: A Roadmap to Reducing Burden on Racial and Ethnic Minorities.”
During Black History Month, AAFA and KFA will continue to highlight key differences in diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes, especially for Black Americans. We will be sharing stories, resources, information, and strategies that can make a difference.
“Disparities in health care are something we know about all too well as an organization, and we are actively working to change this,” said Kenneth Mendez, AAFA President and CEO, in the “Asthma Disparities in America” report. “The disproportionate harm from the health care systems on minority populations are both rooted in the same thing: deep, systemic racism. Our systems have historically failed Black Americans and other marginalized groups. AAFA is an organization that has always been dedicated toward striving for justice with our work to reduce disparities in care for underserved groups. We are working hard to keep these issues at the forefront until we eradicate these differences.”
You can also join us in honoring Black History Month and our mission to promote pathways for equity in food allergy and asthma care resulting in healthier outcomes.
Have you faced or seen racial or ethnic bias in food allergy care? Share your story so health care providers and communities can learn from you. Are you a community leader or health care provider working on solutions? We want to hear what motivates you to help marginalized groups living with food allergies. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. We just might spotlight it during Black History Month or the months to come!
Looking for an idea on how to make a difference? Join our food allergy community and become a patient spokesperson.
Follow us on social media, tag us, and use the hashtag #HealthEquityNOW to help raise awareness, get involved, and share your reasons why this is a key concern for you.
You can also donate to support our community outreach, research, programming, and policy work to help put an end to disparities in asthma and allergies.
1. Gupta RS, Warren CM, Smith BM, et al. The Public Health Impact of Parent-Reported Childhood Food Allergies in the United States. Pediatrics. 2018:142(6):e20181235. (2019). Pediatrics, 143(3), e20183835. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-3835
2. Liu AH, Jaramillo R, Sicherer SH, Wood RA, Bock SA, Burks AW, Massing M, Cohn RD, Zeldin DC. National prevalence and risk factors for food allergy and relationship to asthma: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. J Allergy Clin Immunol., DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.07.026