January 26, 2009

Are Black Women the Most Affected by STDs?

Soulclap to Daryl C. Hannah (DiversityInc.com) for writing on a topic that is rarely discussed in polite company within the African American community. Sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS are issues that our women and girls need to focus on more in 2009 and beyond.

While Blacks only make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for about 70 percent of gonorrhea cases and almost half of all Chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2007, according to an annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Even more alarming are the statistics surrounding Black teenage women, a demographic that now represents the highest rates of both Chlamydia and gonorrhea of any group.

The report, the " Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance, 2007," showed that of the 1.1 million Chlamydia cases reported in 2007, infection rates among women were three times that of men and Black women, ages 15 to 19, accounting for 9,646 per 100,000 people. Gonorrhea rates, also higher among women, were flat when comparing 2006 to 2007 but were very high for Black teenage women, at 2,956 per 100,000 people.

"The racial disparities in rates of STDs are among the worst health disparities in the nation for any condition," says Dr. John M. Douglass Jr., director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention. "The widespread occurrence of these diseases should serve as a stark reminder that STDs remain a serious health threat in the United States, especially for women and racial and ethnic minorities."

The study also highlighted the health disparities associated with socioeconomic status, which limits many Black Americans' access to quality healthcare, forcing them to forgo much-needed treatment--a move that often leads to infertility.

"We must intensify effort to reach these communities with needed screening and treatment services," the study reveals. "Testing and the knowledge of infection is a critical first step toward reducing the continued consequences of these diseases."

"Left untreated, Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility, affecting a woman's chance to bear children later in life," Douglass says. "Such a severe consequence is entirely avoidable if as a nation we work together to increase the use of proven prevention tools and make them widely available to those who need them."

I encourage all villagers to share information about the upcoming National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Those of you in the greater Cincinnati area should make plans to attend an Awareness Day event called, Healthy Relationships for Mothers, Daughters and Grandmothers, Too!


The Urban Scientist said...

Sadly, I think this alarming health disparity is directly related to our community's lack of sound education (Which too is a resource related to socioeconomic status). I find it as no big surprise that the group that falls WAY behind in science education also is being hit harder by STDs and STI transmission. STI prevention is all about quality health and sex education. Too many of out youngsters don't understand disease biology and how their behavior can increase or decrease their exposure to said diseases. It's all about receiving a Sound biology (human biology) education. The ball has been dropped - many times and in many places.

RawDawg just hinted to this academic acheivement gap in his most recent post: http://rawdawgb.blogspot.com/2009/01/waynes-world.html.

I also recently posted some links about the science of STDs on my page http://sciedsociety.blogspot.com/2009/01/weekly-science-updates-its-all-in-genes.html.

I hope this starts thngs ont he right path.

RiPPa said...

I'm not buying the gap between Blacks and Whites when it comes to healthcare for these numbers if they're true. Not saying that there isn't a socio-economic divide that Blacks suffer with when it comes to healthcare. I have to question these figures. What? Are Black people too poor to buy condoms? I mean thats kinda what I get out of it. Either that, or there is a direct correlation between melanin and promiscuity.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

yes, cause we africa too

The Urban Scientist said...

This issue of risky sex, promiscuity, and negative consequences of sex (STD and unwanted pregnancies) have serious undertones of classim

PostBourgie cross-referenced it a while ago http://postbourgie.com/2008/11/03/red-sex-blue-sex-and-middle-class-values/

and there are studies that evaluate these relationships. here is one http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/health/teen-sex-lives-influenced-more-by-socio-economic-factors-than-school_10016755.html

And I don't think this is about brown kids being more promiscuitous or amoral than other kids. But there is something going on that we see a disproportionate number of black/brown girls (often very young and from poor families) engaging in risky behavior. Why is that? What are the social and community supports or cultural influences that either make early/risky sex okay or turns a blind eye to such behaviors?

Villager said...

Urban Scientist - One of the positive things that Black bloggers can do is increase awareness and education about health issues ... like HIV/AIDS. I hope that my blog can provide this information over the course of the next few weeks and months...

RiPPa - I've seen folks suggest that the statistics are not reliable. However, they do form a starting point for discussions about condom use and other positive behaviors (like abstinence) that reduce chance of STDs by our girls and boys...

RawDawg - I'm not sure how the fact we have more melanin in our skin than others is a reason for us to engage in risky sexual behavior that all too often results in STDs...

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for shedding light on this issue. I knew it was bad, but my God I had no idea...

Villager said...

Keith - I have been blown away by the statistics as well. I've been doing some research as part of my work for a new client here in Cincinnati. There is a social network created by a brother in DC-area called CollectiveX. I used it this week to create a groupsite called, 'HIV-AIDS-Awareness'.


I invite you to check it out if you have time or inclination.

The Invaders said...

I've been monitoring the statistics for years. It hurts to see people of color suffering from these issues. It is the main reason why I'm abstinent. I believe that this is something that other people need to become as well, besides condom use.
An article I read a few months ago, stated that the reason for high STD rates in the community, was because of lack of condom use. I can also add the issue with drugs and prostitution to the list. So in combination it increases the rate of infection.
Its sad to know that all over the world darker skin people are most affected by negative things, but it is the reality. I find it's a reality they deny and in doing so leave the problems to worsen.
If we acknowledge it...I'm certain these problem will change.