In Davidson County, Tenn., tuberculosis has declined steadily in the past 10 years, but the number of cases among blacks in the county remains disproportionately high, the Tennessean reports. Blacks represent 19% of the county's population, according to state Department of Health epidemiologists; however, in 2008, 35%, or 26, of the 74 TB cases in the county were in U.S.-born blacks.

Alisa Haushalter, director of the Nashville Metro Public Health Department's Bureau of Population Health, said the numbers indicate that blacks in the county are five times more likely to have TB than whites.

A new task force is boosting efforts to educate high-risk groups about the disease. Individuals who live in dorms, jails, homeless shelters and places where drug users congregate have the greatest risk for contracting the disease, according to the Tennessean. "TB is preventable, treatable and curable. I think that's the message we want to get out there," Haushalter said.

Cherry Houston, former director of the Tennessee Department of Health's Division of Minority Health and Health Disparities Elimination, said in a statement, "Unless we also focus on creating partnerships that address poverty, joblessness, homelessness, poor education and all the factors that make people more susceptible to this disease, we will continue on this road of ill health" (Ross, Tennessean, 3/2).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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