Black Women’s Health Imperative Launches New Project to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Black Women’s Health Imperative Launches New Project to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Breast and Cervical Cancer

By: Imperative Staff

The Black Women’s Health Imperative (Imperative) announced today that it received a five-year, $1.2 million award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch a new project to help decrease racial and ethnic disparities in breast and cervical cancer among Black women.

The SisterReach U.S project will work with two community-based organizations in Atlanta, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois, to eliminate barriers to education, treatment and survivorship for Black women at risk for developing, diagnosed or living with breast or cervical cancer.

While death rates for most cancers have declined overall, racial and ethnic disparities in breast and cervical cancer mortality continue to persist. Although the incidence rate of these cancers among white women is higher compared to Black women, Blacks are typically diagnosed at later stages due to a lack of access to quality screenings and have lower 5-year survival rates compared to whites.

A recent online survey conducted by the Imperative of its members highlighted the need for the program, emphasizing the role of late-stage diagnosis in the increased mortality rates. Eighty-seven percent of 280 Black women surveyed believe that late-stage diagnosis is a major factor contributing to poor outcomes for Black women with breast cancer. Seventy-five percent said that additional factors contributing to these disparities is a lack of access to quality and timely treatment and care, while 65 percent think it is a lack of education.

“There remains a critical unmet need for breast and cervical cancer education, treatment and survivorship and the barriers keep getting taller and wider,” Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, Imperative president and CEO, said. “Considering the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ new recommendations delaying screening for women and the fact that Black women are not at the forefront of research studies and policy decisions, the reality is that our unique health experiences and outcomes continue to be ignored.”

The Imperative provided sub-grants to its community-based partners – the Center for Black Women’s Wellness in Atlanta, Georgia and the Chicago Black Women’s Health Project in Chicago, Illinois – to examine strategies that bring about social and political changes that improve the health outcomes of Black women living in Atlanta and Chicago.

The program is launching in Chicago and Atlanta because Black women in both cities experience higher mortality rates of breast cancers than the state and national averages. In Chicago, Black women’s breast cancer mortality rate (39 percent) is higher than the state rate (37.6 percent) and the national rate (33 percent). While the breast cancer mortality rate for Black women in Georgia (30.9 percent) is less than the national rate (33 percent), the rate for Black women in Atlanta (33.9 percent) is higher than both the state and national rates.

The SisterReach U.S. project is funded as a part of the CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health Across the U.S. (Reach U.S.) initiative to help eliminate health disparities among several minority populations in the United States by identifying and implementing effective programs and strategies to improve social conditions and barriers that contribute to health challenges affecting minority populations. More than 250 minority-serving national organizations (MNO) competed for the funding. The Imperative was one of six MNOs awarded.