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Report: Black Men Less Likely to Live to 65 in CT, Nation

PHOTO: A new JAMA report finds young black men in Connecticut and across the nation are disconnected from major health-care system improvements, and says it's one reason more than half won't live to age 65. Photo credit: Mike Clifford
PHOTO: A new JAMA report finds young black men in Connecticut and across the nation are disconnected from major health-care system improvements, and says it's one reason more than half won't live to age 65. Photo credit: Mike Clifford
March 16, 2015

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Connecticut has plenty of major hospitals that offer the latest in technology, but a new report says too many young black men are disconnected from care and, as a result, are likely to live shorter lives.

Young black men have a difficult time accessing health services, said report coauthor Kenn Harris, project director for New Haven Healthy Start at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and president-elect of the National Healthy Start Association. Even when they do, the system does not generally understand their needs, he said, adding that the result is that they are living shorter lives.

"There's a disparity in the life expectancy," he said. "Again, you have 50 to 62 percent chance of survival to age 65 for black boys - compared to white counterparts, it was 80 percent."

The Viewpoint commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association called for increased funding for public health and social-services programs.

While heart disease and cancer are major factors, the report noted that homicide is the leading cause of death for black men ages 15 to 35, and ranks in the top three for black male children ages 1 to 15.

One way Connecticut is working to address the disparity is with programs such as Healthy Start, which has traditionally focused on mother-and-child issues, but Harris said now is expanding outreach to men of color.

"We're also looking at including services for men and fathers," he said, "so just the availability of just getting men into care and then providing the care to them."

Harris said men of color coming out of prison often are disconnected from social programs and quality health care. He said he thinks that's a big reason that 79 percent of formerly incarcerated men in the state go back to prison within five years. Harris is convinced the state could cut the recidivism rate with better educational opportunities and social programs.

The report is online at jama.jamanetwork.com.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT