NIAMS National Multicultural Outreach Initiative

Health Observances


February Is African American History Month

What does my heritage have to do with my health?

African Americans have a rich heritage rooted in a deep sense of family, community, and resilience. African Americans rely on a heritage of faith, hope, and progress. It’s also important to know that being African American means you may have an increased risk for certain health conditions, like osteoarthritis, lupus, and severe forms of scleroderma. Take some time and learn what you can do to manage these and other conditions. In celebrating family, what can be more important than taking care of your health?

How can I improve my health?

Having an increased risk for certain health conditions doesn’t mean you can’t take steps toward improving your health and minimizing those risks. You can even encourage your family, friends, and others in your community to do the same.

  • Improve your diet. Try finding a family recipe you can make healthier by cooking it with less fat and salt. Or try one made with calcium-rich foods such as salmon, almonds, or green leafy vegetables.
  • Try to visit your health care provider at least once a year. If you take care of family members, help them schedule appointments as well. Monitoring your health is a great way to stay in control.
  • If you or a loved one needs to find a free or low-cost health center in your area, the Federal Government can help. Find a free or low-cost health center.

Where can I find out more?

For more information on managing and improving your health, click or download these easy-to-read publications from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS):

You can also order these and other topics for free by visiting or calling toll free at 877–226–4267 (TTY: 301–565–2966). Many publications are also available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Find additional information about African American health (U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health).

Find additional information about African American History Month (Library of Congress).