Oct. 7, 2022 — Cases of monkeypox in the United States disproportionately affect black Americans, with rates five times higher than among white peers, according to a new report of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders also have significantly higher rates of reported cases of monkeypox.
“Disparities in cases persist among blacks and Hispanics, a trend also seen with HIV and COVID-19,” KFF wrote.
The analysis was based on CDC data for 68% of monkeypox cases reported in the United States as of September 23. Monkeypox case rates are:
- 14.4 per 100,000 people among black Americans
- 10 per 100,000 people among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders
- 8.3 per 100,000 people among Hispanic Americans
- 3 per 100,000 Asian Americans
- 2.8 per 100,000 population among American Indians and Alaska Natives
- 2.6 per 100,000 people among white Americans
Overall, black Americans account for the largest share of monkeypox cases, and black and Hispanic Americans account for a larger share of cases. About 70% of cases are in people of color, while people of color make up 40% of the US population.
The monkeypox epidemic in the United States appears to be slowing down, KFF wrote, peaking in August and waning in September. However, new cases among black Americans began to overtake those among white Americans in early August. Although these cases are now decreasing, the numbers continue to remain higher.
Additionally, black and Hispanic Americans received smaller shares of monkeypox vaccines, according to the report. As of Sept. 27, 51% of first doses have gone to white Americans, though they account for 30% of cases. On the other hand, black Americans received 13% of the first doses while they represent approximately 35% of cases. Similarly, Americans of Hispanic origin received 22% of the first doses, while they represent 30% of the cases.
“The lower shares of vaccinations among these groups may partly explain why they had higher numbers of new cases and complicate efforts to address disparities in the future,” KFF wrote.
The United States has reported 26,385 cases of monkeypox during the current outbreak, according to the latest CDC data. More than 70,000 cases and 27 deaths have been reported worldwide.
KFF noted the ongoing challenge of tracking the outbreak due to data limitations around testing and vaccination. For example, race and ethnicity data is missing for 32% of reported cases and 9% of vaccinations. Without data, researchers are unable to perform disparity analysis across multiple factors, such as race and ethnicity, sex, gender identity, and risk.
“As seen with HIV and COVID-19, underlying structural inequalities put people of color at heightened risk of public health threats, and targeted efforts will be essential to minimize and prevent further disparities in the future,” KFF wrote. “While the federal government has begun to pilot efforts to reach communities of color with MPX vaccines to address disparities, it is unclear whether these efforts will be sufficient to avoid further disproportionate impact, and much will also depend state and local courts. do.”