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Documenting Durham’s Health History seeks to illuminate the persistence of racial health disparities in Durham, North Carolina over the past century. It highlights four sequential case studies: tuberculosis before WWII, childbirth during hospital desegregation in the 1960s, the HIV epidemic in 1980s-1990s, and the recent surge of type 2 diabetes.
In each example, health authorities recognized a significant gap in health outcomes between the city’s white people and people of color. Yet they often failed to appreciate the role of cultural stigma or structural factors, such as employment and housing conditions and access to health care. This exhibit looks at each case study from multiple vantage points. While racial disparities characterize all four examples, each one illustrates how race intersects with other categories such as class, gender, sexual orientation, and neighborhood networks.