Nearly 40 million (28.5%) of America's 140 million women are members of racial
and ethnic minority groups. In Contra Costa, 41.9% of Contra Costa women
are members of racial and ethnic minorities.
Many of these women experience poorer health, use fewer services, and continue
to suffer disproportionately from premature death, disease and disabilities.
Many also face tremendous social, economic and cultural barriers, plus
other obstacles to optimal health.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in California and in Contra Costa. Breast
cancer rates (151.2 per 100,000) are higher in Contra Costa than in the rest of the state (127.4
per 100,000). While white women are more likely to get breast cancer, African American women are
more likely to die of the disease.
Early detection and treatment is the best defense against breast cancer. In 1992 in Contra Costa, African American and Latina women were the least likely ethnic and racial groups to have their breast cancer diagnosed
at an early state. By 1997, African American, Latina and white women had the same likelihood of
having their breast cancer diagnosed at an early state. Despite improvements, approximately 30% of
breast cancer among Contra Costa women of all races continues to be diagnosed at a late
Invasive cervical cancer is almost completely preventable with regular screening. However, Latina women have the highest rates of cervical cancer in the state and Asian/Pacific Islander women have the second highest rate. In the U.S., the incidence rate of cervical cancer in Vietnamese women is nearly 5 times that of white women. In Contra Costa, Asian/Pacific Islander women have the highest rate of this kind of cancer.
In Contra Costa County and in the nation, African American women have a shorter life expectancy and experience
earlier onset of such chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension than white women.
Asian American/Pacific Islander women age 65 and older have the highest death rate from suicide of all women in their age group.
Twenty percent of Americans living with HIV are women. In Contra Costa, 18% of those living with HIV are women. Nationwide, 77% of those are African American or Hispanic. In Contra Costa, 60% are African American, 8% are Hispanic. AIDS is the second leading cause of death among African American women age 25 to 44 nationwide.
Although Contra Costa's rate of heart disease and strokes for all groups of women is lower than the state rate for all groups, the disparity between white women (187.99 per 100,000) and African American women (286.73 per 100,000) is significant.