On September 18, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust released The 2015 Kelly Report on Health Disparities in America, an official Congressional analysis of the state of African American health in the United States that offers a blueprint for reversing negative health trends in communities of color. Compiled by CBC Health Braintrust Chair Robin Kelly (D-IL), this report provides a wide range of policy and legislative recommendations to ensure health equity.
The report features an article titled, “A Silent Inequity: Hepatitis C in the African American Community,” which highlights the disproportionate impact of hepatitis C on the African American community. While African Americans comprise about 13% of the U.S. population, they represent 25% of all hepatitis C cases. For African Americans ages 45 to 65 years old, hepatitis C-related chronic liver disease is the leading cause of death. The article includes several policy recommendations, including expanding hepatitis C testing and harm reduction efforts, and ensuring that correctional health systems are included and supported in implementing hepatitis C screening and preventive services.
The article also describes how barriers to accessing new hepatitis C treatments are particularly harmful to African Americans living with hepatitis C. The article calls for immediate expanded access to the hepatitis C cure as a vital component to reducing health disparities. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) echoes the call for hepatitis C treatment access as part of his call to action in the Kelly Report.