Being diagnosed with diabetes can be a tough pill to swallow. An important first step is understanding the difference between the two types of diabetes: type 1, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes; and type 2, which occurs when the body isn’t able to produce enough insulin or when cells develop an insulin resistance.

In short, people with type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin, while people with type 2 diabetes may not be able to produce or effectively use insulin. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown; however, the body’s own immune system plays a huge role. Type 2 diabetes, which affects approximately 95 percent of diabetes patients, is caused by genetic and lifestyle factors like excess weight and inactivity.

Diabetes is disproportionately common in African-Americans; 13.2 percent of African-Americans aged 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes. They are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic Whites. That said, although we’ve seen strides in medicine, therapy, education and treatments, the number of African-Americans diagnosed with this disease continues to rise.

When I started practicing medicine more than 20 years ago, it was more difficult to access reliable health information. Now with the internet, evidenced-based health information is at your fingertips, and it is often tailored for race, sex and lifestyle.

To combat the diabetes epidemic, we must continue to educate, inspire and raise awareness of the importance of managing diabetes appropriately. Pharmaceutical company Lilly understands that a key to effective diabetes management is access to medicine, which is why it launched the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center to help patients who are struggling to afford their insulin.

This patient-focused helpline is staffed by expert representatives who assist with identifying personalized solutions to address insulin affordability. They provide a customizable suite of solutions that can help significantly lower and cap high monthly out-of-pocket costs for some people who use Lilly insulins, including a recently available insulin option that has a 50- percent lower list price than its branded counterpart. Patients should always ask their pharmacists to compare out-of-pocket costs.

Help is available by calling the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center at (833) 808-1234, and representatives are available between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Services are offered in English, Spanish and other languages.

Let’s continue to educate and inspire so we can end this diabetes epidemic.

Dr. Corey Hébert, M.D., aka “The Doctor for The People,” is EBONY's medical editor.