South Carolina has some of the highest rates of health disparities in the country among minority populations. Cancer, HIV, infant mortality, cardiovascular disease and stroke rank high, particularly among African Americans and rural residents.
A five-year grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Center on Minority Health Disparities is a continuation of a $7.5 million grant that was awarded to the University of South Carolina.
Dr. Saundra Glover of the university’s Arnold School of Public Health describes what the focus of the research.
It’s to promote health equity through research, education and community engagement. It will focus on specifically HPV mediated cancer and HPV AIDS in Orangeburg County.
The HPV or human papillomavirus is a cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer, but most HPV infections do not cause cancer.
Glover says results of the research will be very important.
What we want to address is how do we turn it around. I think it’s very clear that the disparities are there for cervical cancer among African-American females, head and neck cancer among African-American males, and certainly HIV and AIDS are almost at epidemic proportions in a number of our rural communities.
Dr. Glover says the researchers hope to use their findings to make a difference.
But a lot of that science will focus on how do we take those findings and then translate them to the communities in a way that we will begin to see changes in health status.
Although the research is concentrated in the Orangeburg community, Glover feels it will be representative of disparities in other South Carolina communities.
This is the first time that we are aware of that a grant of this size will have a community principle investigator role, and will be community driven as it relates to how we take the findings from the research core and the individual research projects and actually integrate those at the community level.