MS in Minorities

MS can be found in people of all different races and ethnicities. Several famous African-Americans have been diagnosed with MS, including Montel Williams, Barbara Jordan, Richard Pryor, and Lena Horne.


MS may occur in some racial and ethnic groups more often than others. Recent studies of people in the U.S. military and members of the Kaiser Permanente health system indicate that the risk of developing MS may be highest in African Americans. Studies have also shown that MS may also be more aggressive and cause more disability at a faster pace in African Americans. Other studies have shown that people from racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African Americans and Hispanics, may use or have access to fewer health services. This can result in getting diagnosed later, missing out on treatments that could be helpful, and having worse health.


While much is already known about MS, there are still many questions that need to be answered. These include:

  • Why does MS affect some people and not others, and why is the risk of MS higher in African-Americans?
  • Why is it more severe in some people compared to others?
  • Which MS treatments are best for which people?
  • What role does diet and exercise play in MS?


There are many research studies underway to answer these and other questions. People from all races and ethnicities are needed to participate in these studies. That way everyone can benefit from the answers that are found and the new treatments that are developed.