Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health are those conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Health "equity" is achieved when every person in every community has the opportunity to reach his or her optimal health.

Differences in health outcomes continue to persist for Americans of different races and ethnicities in particular in large cities, often due to these determining factors – such as income, education, exposure to violence, transportation and access to healthcare.

Across the country, public health departments are working to eliminate the inequities resulting from social injustice. Through public education and innovative programming, they work tirelessly to address health disparities and improve the health of everyone in their communities. Local health departments collaborate with other government agencies and community partners to address these complex issues. Recent common sense solutions include paid sick leave, livable wage statutes, toxic waste remediation, and safe, healthy and affordable housing. 

Related Content

City Data

Click below to explore city data relating to health equity and social determinants of health.


Houston: Youth and HIV/STD Testing

The Houston Health Department truly understands that if you want to affect behavior you must reach out to those whose behavior you want to change, not wait for them to come to you. Otherwise, you may never reach them. That’s the motivation behind Houston Hits Home, a public health initiative targeting some of the highest risk groups for HIV—youth of color—to get them tested so they know their status. 




Philadelphia: Innovative Efforts Result in Big Drops in Obesity Among Youth of Color

“Philly is special,” notes Food Trust Executive Director Yael Lehmann. “There are some special things happening there, especially around food and food access.”