Medical

Dr. Jerome Adams talks about eliminating race-based medicine

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dr. Jerome Adams, WISH-TV’s medical expert and a former U.S. surgeon general, talked Wednesday about eliminating race-based medicine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement saying: “Race-based medicine has seen pervasively interwoven into the fabric of healthcare delivery in the United States for more than 400 years. Race is a historically derived social construct that has no place as a biological proxy.”

Adams said, “Unfortunately, throughout the history of medicine, race has been used as a means to to give differential care and in far too many cases, and the majority of cases, negative care to people of color.”

“It was speculated that because of their darker and thicker skin that African-Americans felt less pain, so there are instances where African-Americans were not given anesthesia for surgery, whereas other people were based on this false belief about their race,” Adams said.

Adams says this statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics is saying that we need to work hard to figure out the real root causes about differences in the way people experience health and health care. He says we have seen this happen in other forms of health care as well.

“We’ve seen this happen with cardiovascular treatment, we’ve seen it happen with neurologic treatment, and when we look at how we treat people who have urinary tract infections,” Adams said. “They’re saying let’s look at these social determinants of health, things like transportation, housing, and systemic racism, meaning that we treated people based on the way that they looked differently in the past, but let’s not say that it is your race alone as a predictor of whether or not we should give you a particular treatment.”

Adams went on to explain his opinion on how a statement like this affects treatment for kids.

“I’m the director of Health Equity Initiative at Purdue, and health equity is all about giving people the tools that they need to be able to make healthy choices,” Adams said.

“It becomes easier to do that when we collect information about the array of risk factors that a person may experience. We don’t assume because you’re white, you’re going to be better off. It may be that you’re white and rural, so we need to look at that as a risk factor. It may be that it goes beyond you being black, but about the housing that you experience that’s causing you to be sick,” Adams said.

Adam explained that digging deeper into these risk factors rather than blaming everything on race makes it easier to address root issues.

“I can’t change the color of your skin, but I certainly can change a lot of those predictors and a lot of those risk factors you have with poor health,” Adams said.

Liver disease affecting kids worldwide

He also talked about liver disease affecting kids worldwide, causing more deaths. The World Health Organization now says there are 170 cases in 11 countries, including the United States. It’s now up to 16 countries, 10 different U.S. states, and over 200 cases nationwide being investigated.

Adams said, “They’re investigating reports of unusual situations where children are getting hepatitis. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. You can see elevated liver enzymes, and you can see yellowing of the skin and eyes. Two children in the United States have needed to receive liver transplants after these unusual cases.”

He says they do not know the cause, and are investigating to figure it out. He says many of these cases have been associated with adenovirus.

“They followed up on these kids and found out that they tested positive for antibodies for adenovirus, which is a virus that can cause the common cold or cause a kind of stomach illness that many kids have, but it hasn’t been associated with hepatitis and kids before, so a lot of the health officials out there are flummoxed ,” Adams said.

There is concern that the illness could potentially be connected to COVID-19.

“So far in the investigations, they have found no association whatsoever with these children having COVID previously. A lot of the speculation is because the CDC said that up to two-thirds of kids have antibodies to COVID, so there’s a good chance that these kids have been exposed and may not have known it,” Adams said.

Adams says they have checked to make sure there’s no associations with vaccinations with COVID in these cases of hepatitis.