Health Disparities

Addressing health disparities is a core theme of our policy platform, and is threaded throughout our five major issue areas. As an organization dedicated to providing health supportive and direct services for women affected by HIV, disparities in health care and health outcomes based on income, gender and race is of paramount concern to The Women’s Collective.  HIV/AIDS disproportionately impacts African Americans; this disparity is the result of a range of social determinants of health and other structural inequities, including access to health insurance coverage, rates of homelessness, prevalence of drug use, and rates of incarceration.  Access to affordable and effective insurance coverage and access to quality health care is affected by race, income, and gender.  

The statistics in Washington, DC and across the country illuminate the impact these structural inequalities have on access to care and health outcomes:

  • The life expectancy for Black residents in Washington, D.C. is 71.6 years, compared to 84.3 years for Whites.[i]
  • Minorities generally rate their health as poorer than Whites.[ii]
  • Blacks are most likely to have a chronic illness or disability.[iii]
  • Blacks with family incomes below 200% of the poverty level are 26% more likely to suffer from a chronic condition than whites.[iv]
  • In 2010, blacks accounted for 12% of the population, but accounted for 44% of new HIV/AIDS infections.[v]
  • In 2012, 69% of people living with HIV were Black.[vi]
  • Compared to the general population, in DC, people living with HIV have higher rates of STI and hepatitis.
  • The infant mortality rate for Black women was more than double that for White women in 2011.[vii]
  • According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, eliminating health disparities would have reduced medical care expenditures by almost $230 billion and reduced indirect costs associated with illnesses and premature death by approximately $1 trillion over a 3 year period.[viii]
  • The risk of maternal mortality is 3-4 times higher among Black women than White women.[ix]

[i] Kaiser Family Foundation. Life Expectancy at Birth (in years), by Race/Ethnicity. 2010.

[ii] National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey. 2005.

[iii] The Commonwealth Fund. Health Care Quality Survey. 2006.

[iv] The Commonwealth Fund. Biennial Health Insurance Survey. 2005.

[vi] Planning Council EMA Presentation (2014).

[vii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Vital Statistics Reports. Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2011. (2012).

[viii] Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The economic burden of health inequalities in the United States. 2009. Washington, DC. Available at

[ix] Amnesty International. Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Crisis in the USA. One Year Update, Spring 2011. Available at