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Imagine how Black Americans face higher risks of diabetes complications, with diabetic retinopathy rates 46% higher in African Americans than in non-Hispanic whites. As a Black man diagnosed with diabetes, I was shocked by the health disparities in our community: 1 in 3 Black adults has diabetes. We face worse outcomes, higher complication rates, and unequal healthcare. This is unacceptable.


This reality led me and a group of passionate individuals to co-found the African American Diabetes Association (AADA), the only national Black-led and Black-benefiting nonprofit specifically dedicated to tackling diabetes health disparities in the U.S. for Black Americans. When I first learned I had diabetes, I sought answers and discovered that racial and ethnic minorities bear a disproportionate burden of the diabetes epidemic. We have higher prevalence rates, worse diabetes control, and higher rates of complications.

According to the Office of Minority Health, 13.4% of Black men and 12.7% of Black women have been diagnosed with diabetes, with rates 60% higher than those of white people. Black Americans are twice as likely to die from diabetes and three times more likely to be hospitalized for diabetes-related complications. We are also more than twice as likely to undergo diabetes-related leg or foot amputation and more than three times as likely to have end-stage kidney disease.

In response, I worked with several Black men, women, and youth impacted by diabetes to establish an organic Board of Directors for the AADA. We are now a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

One of AADA’s critical purposes is to educate African Americans and the general public about the higher diabetes disease burden and disparities in care. We also aim to promote culturally tailored healthcare interventions and products to improve diabetes care, health outcomes, and reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic populations. Our goal is to provide African American diabetics and their families with effective information, projects, programs, and strategies to reduce diabetes and health disparities in the United States.


Please join our effort by volunteering, donating, or creating a local AADA chapter in your community.

Leon Nathaniel Rock M. Ed.

Co-Founder and CEO


Daily Drum at Howard University
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