While black history is American history and cannot be adequately covered in a single month, we take Black History Month as an opportunity to confront kidney health disparities. Unfortunately, African American adults are 3.5 times more likely to have kidney failure.

The major risk factors for chronic kidney disease (CKD) include high blood pressure, obesity, family history and diabetes. These risk factors also disproportionately affect African American communities. The relative socioeconomic status of these communities, in addition to their relative lack of access to medical care and a genetic predisposition toward kidney disease, makes the risk for kidney disease higher.  Compared to non-Hispanic whites, the risk of diagnosed diabetes is 77% higher among African Americans, and African Americans with diabetes are 3 to 6 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease.

African Americans alone comprise 34% of patients on the wait-list to receive a kidney transplant, but they are also less likely to receive that transplant. In 2014, 4,546 living donor transplants were performed, with only 580 on African American patients. And for those who do get transplants, the median wait time for white Americans is 1,310 days while the average for African Americans is 1,831 days.

As a dialysis patient who is actively engaged with the DPC Education Center, you are part of a mission to improve the quality of life for dialysis patients, who are disproportionately African American. Take Black History Month as an opportunity to think of new ways to further advance this mission.