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Researchers Cite Factors That Can Make AMR the Next Epidemic of Inequality

Antibiotic resistance could be the next epidemic to highlight the impacts of structural racism on health and access to health services, caution the authors of an analysis published in Nature Medicine Monday. The article argues that stronger measures to combat antibiotic resistance should be a key component of broader efforts to promote health equity.  

The disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black and Latinx people across the United States raise the need to examine the effects of inequities that greatly increase risks of illness and deaths among racial and ethnic populations, the authors write. While data on the incidence of antibiotic resistance among racial and ethnic minority community members are scarce, the authors note, multiple factors disproportionately affecting those communities are known to contribute to acquiring infections that do not respond to available medicines. Those factors include a greater likelihood of more frequent hospitalization for preventable conditions leading to increased exposure to hospital acquired antibiotic resistant infections, travel to native countries with high prevalence of antibiotic resistant infections, occupational exposure to antibiotics in meat-processing plants and, with less access to prescriptions for antibiotics, increased likelihood to access antibiotics from household members, without prescription.

The authors, Maya L. Nadimpalli, Courtney W. Chan and Shira Doron of Tufts University, call for improved collection of racial and ethnic data in health care settings and efforts to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance risks in racial and ethnic minority communities. The Infectious Diseases Society of America also urges broader investments in antibiotic research and development, stewardship, surveillance, infection prevention and the infectious diseases workforce necessary to lead these activities.

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