CDC’s Priority to Address Health Equity Issues Across Antibiotic-Resistant Threats

Posted On: March 2022

Story Highlights
  • More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, with a disproportionate number of these infections negatively impacting people who are at higher risk for health disparities and inequities.
  • Disparities in antibiotic-resistant threats exist across all social determinants of health, including health care, the food supply, and the community.
  • CDC is prioritizing health disparities/inequality related to antibiotic resistance through programs like Project Firstline, Antibiotic Resistant Laboratory Network, and National Healthcare Safety Network.

More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the U.S. each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result. When Clostridioides difficile—a bacterium that is not typically resistant but can cause deadly diarrhea and is associated with antibiotic use—is added to these, the U.S. toll exceeds 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths. A disproportionate number of resistant infections negatively impacts people who are at higher risk.

Many risks for antibiotic-resistant infections are tied to the social determinants of health (SDoH)—conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health outcomes and quality of life. Identifying and addressing these impacts is vital for improving health outcomes and reducing the burden of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant threats cause health disparities across age, race, and gender in settings spanning the One Health spectrum—in health care, the food supply, the environment, and the community.

  • Data pdf icon[PDF – 2 pages] on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) show disparities particularly among people of color, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.
  • Antibiotic-resistant infections disproportionately impact young children, men who have sex with men (MSM), and groups that have historically experienced greater obstacles based on their racial or ethnic group.
  • Disparities related to antibiotic resistance are impacted by structural inequities and socioeconomic factors such as household income, type of housing (crowding, persons experiencing homelessness), immigration, type of health insurance, access to health care, and education level.
  • Geography and the built environment (buildings, neighborhoods, parks, roads) also play a role in health disparities related to antibiotic resistance, leading to higher rates of infection among people experiencing homelessness or people facing housing insecurity, travelers to countries with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation, and people living in certain metropolitan cities.
Print Version
Health Equity and Antibiotic Resistance Fact Sheet

Download a printable fact sheet highlighting information on this webpage: Health Equity and Antibiotic Resistance pdf icon[PDF – 2 pages].

We know that more research and action is needed to fully understand potential disparities related to antibiotic resistance and this is a priority for CDC. CDC is working across programs like:

  • Project Firstline is addressing training gaps for healthcare workers from diverse educational and training backgrounds
  • The Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network to analyze patient demographic data alongside laboratory test results to provide a more comprehensive picture of antibiotic resistance in certain populations
  • The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) to provide patient demographic data for future analysis and drive improvement in health care quality

Through this work and more, CDC is addressing antibiotic resistance and health equity as part of CDC’s CORE Initiative, an agency-wide strategy to increase equity across public health.