Black communities in the United States are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and the underlying conditions that exacerbate its negative consequences. Syndemic theory provides a useful framework for understanding how such interacting epidemics develop under conditions of health and social disparity. Multiple historical and present-day factors have created the syndemic conditions within which black Americans experience the lethal force of COVID-19. These factors include racism and its manifestations (e.g., chattel slavery, mortgage redlining, political gerrymandering, lack of Medicaid expansion, employment discrimination, and health care provider bias). Improving racial disparities in COVID-19 will require that we implement policies that address structural racism at the root of these disparities.
Keywords: Black Americans; COVID-19; HIV; Health disparities; Syndemic theory.
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