Health People 2020 defines a health disparity as, “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage” (ODPHP, 2021). A population I work closely with is the patient population of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This population is known to have quite a few health disparities. One currently in the forefront is hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the inmate-patient population. It is estimated that the prevalence of HCV in this population is estimated to be 10-33% (NVHR, 2021). As a nurse working with this population, I can tell you that some patients decline/refuse to be tested. Due to this fact I would side on the higher side of that percentage, 33%. The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (2021, p. 1) report an increase in the number of HCV infection of 295 percent from 2010 to 2015. With a population of around 10 million people cycling through the prison system in a year, across the nation, that gives a us either a great opportunity for failure or success. Our only option is really success.
From a federal standpoint we are failing, with less than one percent of inmate/patients being treated for HCV (NVHR, 2021, p. 1). However, from a local/state standpoint we are striving for excellence. The State of California has chosen to not only treat HCV but also a frequent comorbidity of substance use disorder. Both programs have rolled out across the state to treat the curable disease of HCV. NVHR (2021, p.1) has proposed that if we start treating this disease it could be eliminated in the United States by 2030. Hopefully, with our success we will be able to give others the evidence they need to succeed as well.
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In a bid to increase public awareness regarding health and disease prevention, the federal government created Healthy People 2020. One of its many goals is to promote better health and decrease the incidence of chronic diseases through advocating for healthy diets and maintaining a healthy body weight. This is based on research data that shows a strong link between healthy diet and weight with general optimal health outcomes and vice versa. Healthy People 2020 recognizes that such an endeavor requires the collaboration of government together with health policies that support this agenda. Healthy diets include nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as low-fat milk and lean meat. Keeping away from foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and added sugar are highly recommended. Lastly, one is not to consume more than their caloric needs (Nutrition, n.d.).
In 2009 the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) updated their food packages so that it better aligns with federal dietary guidelines as outlined above. The outcomes have been very satisfactory; the research has found that children who participated in WIC after 2009 had a lower obesity risk than those who participated in WIC before the changes were made (Chaparro et al., 2020).
During the 2017-2018 school year, a California school district removed chocolate milk from the menu of all middle and high school students to help decrease students’ consumption of sugar, and in the follow up data that was collected, it showed positive results for the students’ health (Thompson et al., 2020).
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