Minority Health: Liver Disease In Latinos


Latinos or Hispanics are the fastest growing and so far the largest race minority group in the United States with an approximate presentation of 17% of the total United States population. This particular group consists of persons from the countries of Mexico, Cuba, Puertorico, other south/central America countries or any other person(s) of Spanish origin regardless of their race.

Liver disease in Latinos

Chronic liver disease is a major cause of death for persons of the Hispanic population. Even though the main cause for liver disease is not entirely known, the United States department of human services Office of Minority Health (OHM) links these deaths to Obesity, Viral Hepatitis B and C and mainly, Alcoholism.

Compared to their Non Hispanic Whites (NHW) counterparts, the Latino population has higher incidences and more antagonistic patterns of chronic liver treatment results. This is mainly attributed to the factors of; cultural/language barrier, poor disease prevention methods and lack of health insurance. These potential explanations are usually referred to as “The Hispanic Paradox”.

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) tops the list in chronic liver deaths amongst Latinos living in the United States. Second in that list is chronic alcoholism and lastly, viral Hepatitis B and C. NAFLD is usually linked with cultural-specific variations in cadaver habits, biochemical factors as well as distinct physiological attributes.

There exist distinct behavioral patterns as they regard to alcohol consumption between Hispanic persons and the NHW’s. Even though the NHW are known to consume more alcohol than the Hispanics, chronic liver disease still remains more prevalent among the Hispanics. The only logical explanation for this trend is the fact that Hispanic persons are less likely to seek professionalized treatment regarding substance abuse.

Despite the decreasing rate of Hepatitis in the United States, the Hispanic population still remains highly affected by this disease as compared to the NHW. This is highly attributed to the use of injectors in drug use among persons of this ethnic group. Other behavioral factors linked to this group include prolonged periods of drug use, sharing of paraphernalia as well as non aseptic methods of drug use.


In conclusion, study results suggest that chronic liver disease among the Hispanic population still remains an area in great need of high public health development and medical research priority. Again, the issues of ethnic-specific behaviors can be strategically translated into adequate prevention strategies for improved therapy results. This is well backed by the fact that there is no definitive data relating ethnic-specific variations in patient endurance, recurrence or de novo growth of the syndrome with ultimate increase in survival for Hispanic/Latino persons with liver disease.