Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects over 28 million people worldwide, and is thought to develop as a result of environmental exposures in genitically susceptible people, however there is not yet a cure. Experts used to believe that that MS mostly affected young, white women--something that is still believed to this day. However, recent research shows that MS affects the Black community more so than previoulsy thought, as studies have also shown that Black people may be affected by MS differently.
Black people with MS may have more aggressive disease progression and greater disability including more severe walking and coordination problems due to involvement with the spinal cord, cognitive and visual disabilities, and earlier disease onset. Yet, on average, Black people are diagnosed later in life with MS, leading to poorer health outcomes.
Overall, scientists don't really know the reasons why Black people have more agressive MS disease than white people. However, the Black community is still underrepresented in research, making it impossible to find scientific answers.
Additionally, Black patients tend to face greater barriers to accessing care, including access to health insurance, financial hardships, transportation troubles, etc. All of these factors limit one's ability to see a neurologist or MS specialist early on in the course of the disease when starting treatment is critical.
What's interesting is that, reported in a study of MS outcomes among different racial groups in JAMA in October 2021, there have been no studies conducted on inequities in timely access to DMT (drug treatment that changes how MS develops over time), particularly effective DMT, even though DMT is the largest single outpatient neurology expenditure in the United States. This ties back to the idea earlier of funding research that looks at how MS affects different racial/ethinc groups and, additionally, what groups are more likely to receive treatment than others.