Human Genomics: Challenges for African Americans and Policy Implications for Direct Social Work Practice
Walton, Louise M
Social work in public health 2011; 26(4): 366-79
Recent advancements in the scientific study of the human genome may benefit African Americans through increased knowledge of the causes and cures for diseases that disproportionately affect them. Other potential benefits are far reaching and include legal and socioeconomic importance for the African American community. Although these benefits have tremendous appeal, advancements in genomic science pose significant social issues for African Americans. Disparities in access, insensitive and discriminatory programming, a lack of appreciation of environmental factors, and misuse of genetic databases are among the challenges for African Americans. This article identifies the major benefits and challenges of human genomics cited in literature from various disciplines and discusses policy implications for direct social work practice. The author explains the importance of social work involvement in shaping genetic policies and outlines traditional roles social workers may play in establishing ethnic-sensitive public policies and agency practices to protect the interests of African Americans who interface with the rapidly expanding field of human genomics.
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