What can health officials do to change traditional cultural patterns that place African Americans at risk of infectious or chronic diseases?
Really, the only thing that health officials can do is to try to increase their efforts to education African American communities about the risk factors that are associated with various infections and chronic diseases.
As one example, the cdc.gov link below gives examples of CDC efforts to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS among African Americans. Its efforts are focused largely on educating people about the problem. Importantly, some of the projects the CDC is undertaking are being done in conjunction with community groups. This is very important. It is vital that health officials work with community leaders in the African American community. This is vital in part because these people have more influence in the community, but also because African Americans often distrust the government (as seen by the continuing belief in the idea that AIDS is a government plot to decrease the African American population). The importance of community leaders can be seen in such things as this article about black churches' efforts to improve their congregants' eating habits.