October 7, 2022 – Cases of monkeypox in the United States disproportionately affect black Americans, with rates five times higher than their white counterparts, according to the new report From the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Hispanics, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders also have significantly higher rates of reported monkeypox cases.
“There are still disparities in cases between blacks and Hispanics, a pattern also seen with HIV and COVID-19,” KFF wrote.
The analysis was based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data for 68% of monkeypox cases reported in the United States as of September 23. The rates of monkeypox cases 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 people among Asian Americans
- 2.8 per 100,000 people among American Indians and Alaska Natives
- 2.6 per 100,000 people among white Americans
In general, black Americans account for the largest share of monkeypox cases, and both black Americans and Hispanic Americans account for a greater proportion of cases. About 70% of cases are among people of color, while people of color represent 40% of the US population.
The outbreak of monkeypox in the United States appears to be slowing, the KFF wrote, peaking in August and declining in September. However, new cases among black Americans began to exceed those among white Americans in early August. Although these cases are now declining, the numbers are still higher.
In addition, the report found that Hispanic and American Americans received lower doses of monkeypox vaccines. As of September 27, 51% of the first doses went to white Americans, although they account for 30% of cases. In contrast, black Americans received 13% of the first doses even though they represented about 35% of cases. Similarly, Hispanic Americans received 22% of the first doses, while they account for 30% of cases.
“Low vaccination quotas among these groups may partly explain why their high numbers of new cases and complicate efforts to address disparities in the future,” the KFF wrote.
The United States has reported 26,385 cases of monkeypox during the current outbreak, according to CDC’s latest data. More than 70,000 cases and 27 deaths have been reported worldwide.
The KFF noted the continuing challenge of tracking outbreaks due to data limitations on testing and vaccination. For example, data on race and ethnicity are missing for 32% of reported cases and 9% of vaccines. Without data, researchers cannot analyze variances across multiple factors, such as race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, and risk.
“As we have seen with HIV and COVID-19, underlying structural inequalities place people of color at increased risk for public health threats, and focused efforts will be key to reducing and preventing further inequalities in the future,” KFF wrote. “While the federal government has begun experimenting with efforts to reach communities of color with MPX vaccines in order to address disparities, it is unclear whether these efforts will be sufficient to stave off further disproportionate impact, and much will also depend on what jurisdiction and local authorities do.”