Plasma Poverty Racial Disparities Inequality


In 2019, plasma centers in the United States received a record 53.5 million blood donations, roughly triple that collected during the Great Recession. Recent ethnographic research and journalistic accounts connect plasma sales and poverty, an association that would carry important public health implications given the vulnerability of disadvantaged populations. This study is the first to examine a range of socioeconomic characteristics of communities where commercial plasma centers situate. We geocode locations of all U.S. commercial plasma centers and merge with census tract demographic data from the American Community Survey. Findings indicate greater odds that plasma centers will locate in urban tracts with high rates of deep poverty, poverty, and near poverty. There is a bivariate association with high percentages of residents identifying as Black and Hispanic. These findings indicate a clear interrelationship between persistent economic hardship and the raw material sustaining a major healthcare industry.

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