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Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders consist of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, and other Pacific Islands. This small population often is grouped with Asians in studies and surveys, and as a result, their health status has been masked and overlooked. In the 2000 census, the U.S. government began to recognize Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as a distinct race. Health research has not been as quick to separate them out. But the health profile of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders is becoming better understood with time.
This section of womenshealth.gov takes a look at the health challenges facing Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander women. Many of these challenges, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, are common in many groups of U.S. women, while others are of special concern to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Like other minority groups, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders often have unmet health needs and face barriers to good health. This group is more likely than whites or Asian-Americans to be uninsured or on Medicaid. Cultural, social, and geographic barriers, as well as distrust of Western doctors, also can keep this group from getting needed health services.
Whatever the reasons for their unique health profile, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women can take charge of their health. Knowing your risks gives you power. By reading about health conditions common in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women, you'll know what tests to ask your doctor about. You will learn about lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of disease. This knowledge will empower you to play an active role in achieving good health for yourself and your family.
Content last updated: July 16, 2012.