The Importance of Latinos and Clinical Trials

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Roberto Valdez, Latino Giant Communications Director

By now it is widely known that the Latino population is growing at rapid rates in the United States. Latinos are expected to make up a third of the population by 2050, making this one of the sexiest subjects talked about.

Bias included, we are all aware Latinos are by far the sexiest people in terms of attractiveness, style, and culture. But, the sexy in this context is referring to the influence Latinos have nationwide. Whether we talk about the $1.5 trillion of buying power or how the Latino vote is a relentless subject amongst political strategists, nowadays, the potential within the Latino community is pretty obvious.

With this being said, in order for Latinos to meet their full potential and leave a firm foundation for future generations in this country, the most important investment they must make is in their health. Without ones health, everything else is irrelevant.

This investment has already begun with the total number of Latinos who signed up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In the initial enrollment period, 2.6 million Latinos signed up for the ACA, which resulted in a 7.7 percent drop for uninsured Latinos during that time span. Seeing this type of activity is very encouraging and only creates hope that the health of Latinos will continue to improve.

And though signing up for health insurance is a great start, it is not the only piece to the puzzle. Other factors such as improving eating habits and exercising are crucial to make progress. However, one issue that’s not being addressed is the lack of participation of Latinos in clinical trials.

According to the National Institutes of Health, minorities who participate in clinical trials in the U.S. make up approximately 30 percent of total enrollments. Of that 30 percent, only 7.6 percent are Latinos. When talking about cancer, which is the leading cause of death for Latinos, less than 5 percent of participants enrolling in cancer-related clinical trials are Latinos, according to the National Cancer Institute. This is unacceptable!

The fact of the matter is that diseases are treated differently depending on factors such as gender, age, medical history and race. Latinos must understand that in order for medical experts to comprehend how the community is best treated against deadly diseases such as cancer and diabetes, clinical trials must be done. There is no way around it.

So, why are Latinos not participating in clinical trials?

The main reasons why Latinos are not participating in clinical trials include: Culture, language, and literacy issues, cost, insurance and travel associated with participation, and overall lack of knowledge. Although we might understand these reasons to a certain extent, these excuses should not be tolerated.

This conversation is far from being as important as it should be, but regardless, it needs to begin today. The first and most significant step that must be taken is educating the Latino community on why this is so important for their families and generations to come. The next, provide cultural competent resources in which Latinos can rely on and feel comfortable with.

Latinos must band together for this very critical issue affecting them and understand that this disparity is one that cannot continue. If this trend lingers, the future will suffer, and the sexiness will slowly begin dying away. 

Roberto Valdez is the Communications Director for Latino Giant. Roberto is also Communications Manager for Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS) an organization whose vision is to increase the Hispanic health workforce and increase Hispanic health research done in the United States. Mr. Valdez is a marketing, public/media relations and social media consultant for organizations in the Washington DC area and Arizona.  He is also a sports strategist for high school and college level teams.