Minority participation in clinical trials can help everyone fight Alzheimer’s

Growing up as an African-American in the South over 75 years ago, my family didn’t have the access to medical care we do today. One event from my childhood changed my life.

My mother went to the doctor’s office. She was quite ill and needed help. The doctor said she had to wait to be seen until after all of the white patients were assisted. It was at that moment I decided to become a doctor.

Since then, times have changed and gotten better, but there’s still a pervasive problem in health care for the African-American community. We are underrepresented in medical research and therefore often last in line when finding effective treatments and therapies for diseases. A particular area that should be of concern to all minority populations is Alzheimer’s disease.

African-Americans are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s than Caucasians according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The higher rate of prevalence unfortunately translates into a higher death rate. Alzheimer’s deaths increased 55 percent among all Americans between 1999 and 2014, and these deaths increased 99 percent for African-Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But this is a point of disparity that we, as a community, can help repair.

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