Many Hispanics Believe Myths About Multiple Sclerosis, In Part Because of Lack of Information
Many Hispanics believe that multiple sclerosis is a disease that primarily affects non-Hispanic whites, in part because of a lack of good information about the disease's prevalence among Hispanics, the San Jose Mercury News reports. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 of the 400,000 U.S. residents with MS are Hispanic, according the Mercury News. However, the misconception that the disease does not affect minorities is a "very common notion among the public and even for the medical establishment," according to Janet Sutton, a University of Chicago research scientist who has studied the state of MS treatment in blacks and Hispanics. "There's so little information about MS and Latinos, it's amazing," Sutton added. MS patients commonly have some loss of vision, memory, hearing, balance and comprehension skills and are easily tired and can lose control of bladder and bowel movements, among other symptoms. There also is a possibility that MS is more aggressive in blacks and Hispanics, even though it is less prevalent in the groups, Sutton said. In addition, some Hispanic immigrants do not follow the proper medical treatments for MS and depend on Hispanic customs or advice from relatives to relieve symptoms, according to the Mercury News. Nicholas LaRocca, director of health care delivery and policy research for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said support groups can address myths and issues that affect Hispanic MS patients. "What makes a group work is cohesiveness. When you add sociocultural values, you add more to the feeling of one-ness," LaRocca said (Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, 4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.