The color of a person’s skin should not affect their diabetes care, but it still does. Despite so many advancements in diabetes technology and medications over the past several decades, the care a person receives can still vary dramatically based on their race and ethnicity.  

This Black History Month, we are highlighting the underrepresentation of Black people and other people of color (POC) in type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, and the many barriers POC face that can make thriving with this disease more difficult.  

We know that POC are underrepresented in the T1D Exchange Registry, but in order for our research to benefit all people with T1D, we need our research to represent all people with T1D. This is why one of our greatest organizational priorities in 2023 is to improve diversity in the Registry by engaging more POC with T1D and reducing barriers to participating in research.  

The disparities we see in research and quality of diabetes care provided to POC are why T1D Exchange created the Health Equity Advancement Lab (HEAL) program. Our HEAL program works to understand and change the care provided to POC with diabetes. Comprised of 20 clinical healthcare professionals that work with diabetes clinics across the country, the HEAL program uses a multi-pronged approach to address the many systemic factors contributing to inequities in T1D care. Read more about the HEAL Program here. 

In less than two years, HEAL has identified that people of certain racial and ethnic groups are: 

  • Less likely to be prescribed a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)
  • Less likely to be prescribed an insulin pump
  • Less likely to receive education regarding newer diabetes technology
  • Less likely to have access to CGM and insulin pump technology
  • Less likely to be prescribed newer types of insulin and glucagon medications
  • More likely to develop complications including neuropathy, retinopathy, and nephropathy
  • More likely to be frequently hospitalized for severe hypoglycemia
  • More likely to be frequently hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • More likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19
  • More likely to die from COVID-19

The next step is to develop potential solutions that positively impact these disparities with the goal of providing equal care to all people with T1D. 

This Black History Month, we have an opportunity to stand against racial and ethnic inequalities that negatively impact diabetes care and outcomes for Black people.  

At T1D Exchange, we are striving to ensure our research reflects the experience of all races and ethnicities. Let’s continue to work together to raise awareness, identify obstacles, and improve quality of life for all people with T1D. 

Looking to participate and help us reach our 2023 goals? Join the T1D Exchange Registry today to share your voice!