African American Health in San Francisco

Compared with other ethnic groups in San Francisco, African Americans are experiencing premature mortality at much higher rates (Source: SF Dept Public Health report - PDF):

Is there a particular cause? The charts below show the leading causes of premature mortality for African American males and females in San Francisco during 2003-4. The rates for each of these specific causes are much higher than they are for other ethnic groups in the City.

(from SF Dept Public Health report - PDF )

The greatest improvements in health would come from addressing the leading causes [for example, violence, HIV/AIDS, ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke)]. Ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and hypertensive heart disease can be prevented by exercising, eating more healthily, and by avoiding tobacco. These prevention measures will also prevent or help treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Alcohol is an important risk for violence, stroke, hypertensive heart disease and other causes of premature mortality. When all the alcohol-related outcomes are added up, the sum of YLLs would be greater than that for violence among African American men. Illicit drugs, especially injection drug use, causes premature mortality from HIV/AIDS, drug overdose, and violence.

The relationships among the leading causes of premature mortality and the risk factors that account for half of all deaths in the United States is shown below:

What social factors make these risks so abundant in our communities, and which of them can be most readily addressed at the local level?


A recent publication about years of life lost in San Francisco ranks the leading causes of premature mortality by average years of life lost--a method that highlights those conditions that contribute most to premature mortality. It also contains figures showing how the rates of premature morality for African Americans are higher for nearly every specific cause (a detailed elaboration of the figure on the top of this page).

The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII)

DPH Health Equity Leadership Workgroup on African American Health

SF Neighborhood YLLs

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This page was updated on September 17, 2008.
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