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Minority Women's Health

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Immigrant and migrant issues

If you have seen or been the victim of violence, you know about the lasting emotional pain this physical hurt can cause. But caring people can help you recover from trauma or abuse. Learn more in the violence against women section of womenshealth.gov.
Learn to live healthy in these special sections of womenshealth.gov:

Lack of access to health care, language barriers, and discrimination are all factors contributing to minority health disparities. These issues are often greatly magnified in recent immigrants and migrant workers.

In fact, some research suggests that citizenship may be an even more important factor in health access issues than minority status. Although minorities are more likely to be uninsured than whites, the gap is much larger among non-citizen minorities. Low-income non-citizens are even less likely than low-income citizens to lack health care coverage. Immigrants who are here illegally have few health care options. They may fear discovery if they use services such as community clinics.

Depending on their country of origin, recent immigrants are more likely to have health problems such as:

All of these conditions need treatment. But without health care access, immigrants are unlikely to receive it. Even if they end up in a health care facility, cultural and language barriers can stand in the way of appropriate health care. Health care providers need to be aware of these issues so they are better able to help immigrant patients.

Getting treatment for immediate health needs is important. But taking care of your overall health before health problems arise is also important. In fact, good health habits can help keep you from getting sick or developing medical problems that need a doctor's care. Learn how to take care or your health.

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Human trafficking

Slavery. Many people think it's something from a history book. But modern-day slavery — human trafficking — is happening every day around the world and in the United States.

Trafficking is the fastest growing and second-largest criminal industry in the world today. The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people a year are trafficked across international borders. Of these, an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the United States. About 80 percent of victims are women and girls. U.S. victims are usually from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa.

Traffickers often target the poor, the unemployed, the underemployed, and other people desperate for a better life. They lure their victims with promises of good jobs, money, or fresh start. Victims are then used for forced labor or sexual exploitation. They work unpaid or under-paid jobs like farm work, sweatshops, restaurant work, and as domestic help. The hours are long and the work is hard. Sexual exploitation victims are forced to work as prostitutes, used for pornography, or forced into marriage or other kinds of relationships.

The victims are trapped. Many do not have the money or resources to leave. In other cases, the abusers may be holding the victim's identification papers. They are beaten, mentally abused, starved, and in some cases, kept under lock and key.

Help is available for trafficking victims. If you are a victim, know someone who is a victim, or know of a person(s) or operation you think may be involved in trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center can help with calls from all regions of the United States. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Content last updated: May 18, 2010.

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