HEALTH SCREENING: Less Access For Latina Women, Study Finds
"Latinas in California are less likely than other women to get early screening and treatment for breast and cervical cancers, high blood pressure and HIV," according to a report released yesterday by the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. The Los Angeles Times reports that although Latina women are generally a healthy population -- "in part because of relative youthfulness" -- their lack of access to quality health care makes them "increasingly vulnerable to illness." Mandy Johnson, executive director of the Community Clinic Association in Los Angeles County, said, "There is a huge health (care) access issue. Latinos have the lowest rate of insurance of any cultural or ethnic group in California. They quite frequently don't have a regular source of care."
Lack Of Access To What?
According to the report, breast cancer "is the leading cause of death for Latinas in California, and the incidence of cervical cancer is higher among Latinas than any other female population." They also have higher hospitalization rates for illnesses like diabetes and kidney disease, and do not take advantage of "available prenatal services." The report also found that Latinas, who "make up nearly a third of California's female population," usually don't receive health benefits through their employers and less than 50% have health insurance, compared with 75% of white women. Johnson said the passage of a state anti-immigration and welfare reform initiatives have "kept pregnant immigrants away, even though they are still eligible for Medi-Cal coverage." She noted that this is "problematic not only for them and their children, but also for the public." She added, "For many ... women, prenatal care is the only health care they ever get," and it "may be the only chance to screen these women for a host of infectious or contagious illnesses, including tuberculosis, HIV and gonorrhea." The coalition yesterday called on policymakers "to address deficiencies in Latina health care" (Marquis, 5/29).