Of all minority groups, African-Americans have the most, and many times the largest, differences in health risks when compared to other minority groups. African-Americans have more disease, disability, and early death as well. The illnesses and diseases featured here are among the top health concerns facing African-American women. Many of these problems are chronic, which means they last a long time, sometimes forever. Yet, many also can be prevented.

Lack of health care plays a large part in some of these problems. African-American women are less likely to receive health care. When they do get care, they are more likely to get it late. This means, for instance, problems like breast and cervical cancers aren’t found early, when they are most treatable. Or, the chance to prevent or delay diabetes is lost. Generations of racism and poverty also play a part. So do lack of trust in the medical system, cultural differences, problems accessing care, and a lack of knowledge about the importance of tests to screen for major health problems. For some diseases, genetics also may contribute to risk.

Whatever the reasons for this health gap, African-American women can take charge of their personal health and seek the health care they need. Knowing your risks gives you power. By reading about health conditions common in African-American women, you’ll know what tests to ask your doctor about. You’ll also learn more about behaviors to avoid, as well as lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health. You will feel proud knowing you are doing all you can to protect your own health, and your family’s health too.