Don’t forget social determinants of health in minority MS patients



– The way Lilyana Amezcua, MD, sees it, clinicians should view race and ethnicity as health disparities when assessing individuals with multiple sclerosis.

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Whites are predominately affected with MS, “but we have seen changing demographics,” said Dr. Amezcua, of the University of Southern California MS Comprehensive Care and Research Group. “Why are African Americans now at higher risk ... and why do African Americans appear to have more severe disease? Is it a biological difference ... or is it because of poor access” to health care?

At the meeting held by the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, Dr. Amezcua delivered a presentation entitled “Effect of Race and Ethnicity on MS Presentation and Disease Course.” She called on researchers in the field “to not just take race and ethnicity as any small variable. We need to be cognizant and use the correct methodology, depending on what [question] we want to answer. We need to better define how we ascertain race, how we ascertain ethnicity.”

Dr. Amezcua, who is also the MS fellowship program director at the Keck School of Medicine, disclosed that she receives funding from the National MS Society, the National Institutes of Health, the California Community Foundation, and Biogen.

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