Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH
What is your presentation about?
I was asked to discuss some of the evidence related to “racial differences” in HbA1c. There are differences in HbA1c across racial/ethnic groups that have been misinterpreted to suggest that HbA1c may be a less valid test in certain race/ethnic groups as compared to others. In this talk, I will put into context the evidence for small, glucose-independent differences in HbA1c and dispel the myth that we should incorporate race/ethnicity in decisions about the clinical use of HbA1c. I will discuss that we need to understand the underlying causes of racial disparities and ameliorate them, not perpetuate them in clinical guidelines and practice.
What makes this topic important in 2022?
Recommendations to use race/ethnicity in clinical decision-making about HbA1c are disconcerting and I worry that recommendations to take “race into account” in medicine can do harm, potentially promoting health disparities by legitimizing differences in treatment standards based on race/ethnicity rather than on objective, biological measures.
How did you become involved with this area of diabetes research or care?
I have a long-standing interest in the epidemiology of HbA1c and its use for diagnosis of diabetes. I was pulled into this debate since I lead work on HbA1c and diabetes in a large, community-based epidemiologic cohort of Black and White adults.
What are you most looking forward to at the 82nd Scientific Sessions?
I’m looking forward to catching up with colleagues, learning new science, and hearing some New Orleans jazz.