Press Release

April 4, 2007


State public health director kicks-off
Minority Health Month

IDPH raising awareness to eliminate health disparities  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, was at the Springfield Boys and Girls Club to kick-off Minority Health Month. This event is one of approximately 70 planned throughout the month of April by the IDPH Center for Minority Health Services to raise awareness and eliminate health disparities in communities of color.

“While overall health in the United States and Illinois has improved over the years, not everyone is benefiting equally,” said Dr. Whitaker. “Racial and ethnic groups are suffering from a disproportionate number of diseases and deaths. Because the minority population will continue to grow, we need to work to improve the health of these racial and ethnic communities now to ensure the future health of the state.”

Healthy People 2010, a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Surgeon General details health disparities in our country.

Hispanics living in the United States are almost twice as likely to die from diabetes as are non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics also have higher rates of high blood pressure and obesity than non-Hispanic whites.

The African American infant mortality rate more than doubles that of whites. Heart disease death rates are more than 40 percent higher for African Americans. When it comes to cancer, the death rate is 30 percent higher for African Americans than whites, and more than double that for prostate cancer. African-American women have a higher death rate from breast cancer despite having a mammography screening rate that is almost the same rate as for white women. The death rate from HIV/AIDS for African Americans is more than seven times the rate for whites.

In Illinois, more than half of the total reported HIV/AIDS cases are among African Americans. Of the total reported HIV cases among females in Illinois, 70 percent were African American. Among the male population with HIV in Illinois, 47 percent were African American. Among adolescents, African Americans account for 71 percent of reported AIDS cases in the 13 to 19 age group.

The Illinois Department of Public Health Center for Minority Health Services offers several programs to reduce health disparities.

  • Communities of Color Initiatives – Created in July 2003 by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Communities of Color Initiatives address health disparities within the African American and Hispanic communities by working in conjunction with community-based, faith-based, educational institutions and local health departments to provide health prevention information and screening services. The Stand Against Cancer (SAC) program is part of the Communities of Color Initiatives and works to reduce racial and economic disparities by providing access to breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment. Other aspects of the Communities of Color Initiatives include the Illinois HIV/AIDS Initiative and funding to provide prostate cancer awareness and outreach programs targeting African American men.
  • BASUAH – Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS - On September 15, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich launched a comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to address the alarming trend of infection among the state’s African-American community. The initiative is called the BASUAH Project: Brothers And Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS. Through community outreach, testing and positive peer influence, the mission is to reduce new cases of HIV/AIDS while empowering people with the knowledge to better protect themselves.

A calendar detailing Minority Health Month events is located on the Illinois Department of Public Health Web site at or by calling the Center for Minority Health at (217) 785-3411.

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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