Fauci: A Crisis Can Highlight Health Disparities Among Different Communities

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing (screen capture)

Americans heard words of praise for the LGBTQ community coming from the White House this week?

Yes, but the kind words weren’t uttered by President Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.

The remarks were made Dr. Anthony Fauci during one of the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefings as he noted the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on black Americans.

Fauci said the coronavirus “has shed a light” on health disparities in the U.S. in a similar manner as HIV/AIDS did with the LGBTQ community.

“Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a crisis, like we are now with the coronavirus, it really does shine a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society,” Fauci said.

While Fauci has been one of the leading medical voices on the Coronavirus Task Force, some may not know it was his work as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that led to the development of important medications and treatment for patients with HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic.

“During that time, there was extraordinary stigma, particularly against the gay community,” said Fauci. “And it was only when the world realized how the gay community responded to this outbreak with incredible courage and dignity and strength and activism — I think that really changed some of the stigma against the gay community, very much so.”

 

Ironically, Fauci made the remarks standing next to virulently anti-LGBTQ Vice President Mike Pence.

Fauci’s comments addressed data that shows disproportionately higher rates of coronavirus in the African-American community.

For instance, black Americans in Michigan comprise 35 percent of reported coronavirus cases but only makeup about 14.1 percent of the state’s population.

In Louisiana, African-Americans only make up roughly 32% of the population but they account for 70% of the coronavirus-related deaths in the state.

Fauci pointed out that the coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on African-Americans not because they’re getting infected more often, but because that specific community suffers from health disparities.

Pointing to higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and obesity, Fauci said, “Those are the kind of things that wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate.”

In closing his remarks, the doctor noted that even when the COVID-19 threat is over, as a country, “we really do need to address” those health disparities in black American communities.

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