Health Equity

Not all West Virginians equally experience the risk factors for chronic diseases or chronic diseases at the same rates. Social identities (or characteristics like income, race, disability, education, age, gender, sex, and sexuality) can influence rates of chronic disease, severity of chronic disease, and access to treatment. As part of the mission of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health’s Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease (HPCD), addressing health equity is important to ending health disparities for West Virginians.

What is health equity? 

Health equity can be defined as closing the gaps between advantaged populations and marginalized or vulnerable populations when it comes to chronic diseases (like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses) and the various risk factors for chronic disease (like physical inactivity, poor nutrition, or tobacco use). For more info on Health Equity from the CDC, click here.

What is a vulnerable population? 

Vulnerable populations in West Virginia can be people of color, people with a disability, immigrants, the elderly, those in poverty, LGBTQ populations, and those with less than a high school education. It is important to realize that people can be a part of multiple vulnerable populations at one time.

How do we address health disparities & bring health equity into our work?

  • Research the target population, or those who will partake in the initiatives we implement, and include vulnerable populations in the target population

  • Ask people in your community from vulnerable populations what they need

    • invite representatives from vulnerable populations to join you at the table when developing initiatives and applying for mini-grant funding

  • Reach out to organizations that address health disparities in West Virginia and work with vulnerable populations to invite them to partake in your initiatives

  • Increase access to tools, health screenings, preventative initiatives, and resources for West Virginia’s most vulnerable populations

For more West Virginia health data, please click here: