Monkeypox Case Rates Higher In Black American Population

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report, there are continued disparities in monkeypox cases among Black Americans. The report found that this group represented the largest share of monkeypox cases at a rate of 14.4 per 100,000 of the population. This was closely followed by the Native Hawaiin and other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) communities at 10.0 per 100,000.

The report noted that the existing disparities in case rates among Black and Hispanic people is a pattern also previously seen with HIV and COVID-19 cases.

KFF examined available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the race/ethnicity of people with monkeypox. This accounted for 68% of cases reported as of September 23, 2022.

Monkeypox Case Rates by Race/Ethnicity

Data from CDC

The overall analysis of the data pointed to several key findings:

Monkeypox case rates among Black people were over five times that of White people.

At a rate of 14.4 per 100,000, Black people were found to have significantly higher rates of monkeypox cases compared to White people at 2.6 per 100,000. NHOPI and Hispanic people followed closely behind at 10.0 per 100,000 and 8.3 per 100,000, respectively.

Black and Hispanic people accounted for a larger proportion of the cases compared to their actual share of the population.

Black people accounted for over a third (35%) of monkeypox cases, which is almost three times their share of the overall population (12%). Similarly, Hispanic people were found to represent 30% of monkeypox cases, yet with a share of 19% of the population. On the other hand, White people, who accounted for 30% of monkeypox cases, represent 60% of the population.

Overall, monkeypox cases in people of color amounted to 70% of the total number of cases. However, this population group accounts for 40% of the total population.

Black and Hispanic people have received smaller shares of the monkeypox vaccination as compared to their share of the cases

KFF also reviewed race/ethnicity data on the number of people who have received their first dose of the JYNNEOS MPX vaccine. They found that over half (51%) of the first doses of vaccinations had been received by White people, who accounted for 30% of total cases. This is in contrast to the 13% of the first doses of vaccinations administered to Black people, who represented 35% of the cases. Hispanic people have received 22% of the first doses of vaccinations, while they accounted for 30% of the total number of cases.

KFF also points out, “The lower shares of vaccinations among these groups may in part explain why they have had higher numbers of new cases and complicate efforts to address disparities moving forward.”

And though the U.S. monkeypox outbreak appears to be slowing across all racial and ethnic groups, cases remain highest among Black people.

According to the KFF report, the existing disparities in case rates, as well as vaccination shares, are likely due to a number of factors. This includes structural barriers, stigma, and homophobia, as well as data challenges.

It is to be noted that these analyses and their findings are of huge importance in seeking appropriate response efforts, which include prevention, testing, and treatment.

“As has been seen with HIV and COVID-19, underlying structural inequities place people of color at increased risk for public health threats, and focused efforts will be key to minimizing and preventing further disparities going forward.”

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