IDAHO — We're in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, and while much of the focus is on celebrating tradition, culture, and history, it's also a time to look at the barriers the community has faced and how to address them.
Historically, the Hispanic and Latino communities have faced multiple health inequities.
"There's really two big ones. The first is a lack of access to healthcare," says Cindy Copple, Director of Retail Underwriting at WCF Insurance and the 2022 Go Red for Women Chair. "We find that the Latino and Hispanic communities are much less likely to have a usual source of healthcare."
Copple adds people in the community are much less likely to receive health insurance as a benefit from employers, and when they are able to go to the doctor, they may face language barriers and receive a lower quality of care on top of a higher rate of medical errors.
The second major inequity is a lack of access to nutritious foods which can have a long-term effect.
"Because of these longstanding health inequities, Latinos have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Among Hispanic adults age 20 and over, 42% of women have cardiovascular disease and more than 40% of them have high blood pressure," Copple explains.
Some of those health inequities have been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionately affected the Hispanic and Latino communities.
"Hispanics are almost 2.5 times as likely to have died from COVID than white or non-Hispanic people of the same age, and due to the fear of getting COVID, many people are not going to the hospital when they're having a stroke or a heart attack because they're scared of getting infected with COVID-19," says Copple.
The American Heart Association has started a campaign to address these health inequities and make sure people can access the care they need.
"The American Heart Association just launched the Stay Fuerte for All campaign to help Latinos overcome the reluctance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine," Copple says. "We really want to help dispel the misinformation about the vaccine and remind everyone that it's safe and effective."
The year-long campaign goes beyond the COVID-19 vaccine and also supports the AHA's focus on reducing health disparities within the Latino community and help overcome barriers and challenges to healthcare.