The Difference is Black & White: Confronting Inequities in Multiple Sclerosis Care

MANHATTAN, N.Y. - Dec. 8, 2023 - PRLog -- DKBmed LLC is developing an educational program to combat common misconceptions and widespread inequities in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Entitled Confronting Inequities – MS and the Black Experience, this webinar features an expert panel discussion guided by a focus group consisting of Black individuals with MS.

Researchers estimate that 2.1 million individuals worldwide live with MS, with approximately 900,000 residing in the United States. For years, clinicians have operated under the assumption that MS manifests predominantly among White individuals and more rarely afflicts people from racial and ethnic minority groups. Relatively new data suggest that Black women have a 50% higher risk for developing MS than their White counterparts; Black men have a similar risk for MS as White men. Compared with White individuals with MS, African American individuals have a higher rate of primary progressive MS – a variant characterized by accumulating disability without any periods of remission. Black individuals also have a more aggressive disease course, greater accumulated disability, more frequent relapses, and less recovery after relapses. Some of these differences may be attributed, in part, to genetic and environmental factors, but the role of the social determinants of health is also significant, as Black individuals with MS are referred to specialist care later in the disease course and are less likely to be prescribed the most effective disease-modifying treatments.

"Although significant progress has been made with regards to therapy generally, ongoing inequities in access to care are preventing Black individuals with MS from accessing the level of care afforded to White individuals with MS," notes Annette Okai, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at Texas Tech University Health Science Center. "Further, clinicians must recognize that the disease, which is already variable in presentation, is generally more severe is Black individuals. Education is required to not only dismantle dated notions of MS as a 'Caucasian disease' but also to recognize the greater impact that MS has on Black individuals."

Confronting Inequities – MS and the Black Experience will contain recorded highlights from a focus group discussion to complement topics for exploration during the education session. Black individuals with MS participating in the focus group will describe the experience of being diagnosed with MS as a Black person, identify care decisions made by providers that may have been influenced by race, discuss feelings of mistrust for health professionals, and provide advice for Black patients with newly diagnosed MS. During the live clinician webinar, panelists will address points from the focus group and address gaps in clinician knowledge. The webcast will conclude with a question-and-answer session between participants and members of the faculty panel.

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