Latinos are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias than other demographics in the United States. The population affected by the disease is projected to increase from 379,000 in 2012 to 1.1 million by 2030.
Cancer is also the leading cause of death for Latinos, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, increasing by 72% between 2000 and 2014.
While these diseases remain prevalent among this population, Latinos are statistically less likely to participate in research clinical trials.
“Just like we had the COVID clinical trials for getting the vaccine out there, it’s really important that our underrepresented minority population participate in these trials,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, chair of Population Health Sciences and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. “Because we want to make sure that treatments are effective for everyone.”
Ramirez is also the director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, which was recently awarded a $650,000 grant from Genentech to fuel more participation among Latinos in cancer and Alzheimer’s research.
The program plans to distribute information about the benefits of local clinical trials and encourage Latinos to donate blood samples or tissues to better understand the impacts these diseases have on the population.
Part of that effort begins with addressing the stigma associated with the illnesses, according to Carole White, PhD, RN, director of Caring for the Caregiver and the Nancy Smith Hurd Chair in Geriatric Nursing and Aging Studies at UT Health San Antonio’s School of Nursing. She’s hopeful their work will spur more conversations and education about the signs, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases.
“San Antonio was designated a Dementia-Friendly City a couple of years ago,” said White, “which really is the beginning of an ongoing work … so that people feel included in their community.”
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