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Black Canadians at Higher Risk of Death From HIV & Cancer

Black Canadians at Higher Risk of Death From HIV & Cancer

Young Black couple holding hands and walking in cold weather
Uriel Mont/Pexels

New research shows structural racism and limited education remain a predominant factor in such disparities.

A new report from Statistics Canada has found that Black Canadians are more likely to die from HIV-related causes and certain cancers as opposed to their white counterparts.

The study, according to Global News, analyzed data from Canadian citizens or permanent residents who were older than 19 at the time of the 2001, 2006 and 2011 census, with an additional follow-up period until the end of 2019.

The report found that, apart from HIV, Black men saw an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer, diabetes mellitus and cerebrovascular diseases.

Black women, on the other hand, saw increased chances of dying from HIV-related causes, stomach cancer, corpus uteri cancer, lymphomas and multiple myeloma, diabetes mellitus, and endocrine disorders.

Black men were found to be 2.37 times more likely to die from HIV-related causes than white men, where Black women have a 6.05 times higher risk of dying than white women.

Josephine Etowa, professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa, said structural racism and limited knowledge of the disease impact the African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) communities the most.

“The knowledge surrounding HIV is limited in our community,” she said. “Part of this knowledge includes what new resources are available today and about the prophylaxis treatment that is now available for people to prevent HIV. We need to have meaningful engagement with ACB, including giving them the resources to be able to advocate for themselves.”

The report also delved into discrimination Black people face compared to other groups, which can lead to other risk factors. That said, the report also found that Black men had a 25% lower chance of dying from all causes combined as compared to white men, and the risk was 22% lower in Black females.

Dr. Doreen Ezeige, a medical oncologist in Calgary, said the data proves what needs to be addressed, saying, “We see less engagement with the healthcare system likely due to medical system distrust.”

Although she praises the report for highlighting systematic inequities in Canada’s healthcare, she also says the outdated data doesn’t represent the current situation, particularly post-pandemic.

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