By: Taren Vaughan
As African Americans, our health is constantly affected by one thing or another. There are a number of different diseases that affect our race as a whole, no matter what gender we are. Multiple forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, just to name a few, are things that continuously plague the Black community, even with all the advancements that have been made over the years. As these things play a major role in our overall quality of life, however there are other diseases that have more of an impact on our bodies than we realize.
Sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have been around for quite some time now, dating all the way back to the early to mid 1900’s. And with the development of various drugs and treatments, it has led to the decrease of the diseases being spread from person to person. While the rates of gonorrhea cases have plummeted since the discovery of the disease in the mid 1940’s, the rates for other STDs have increased tremendously. And the group that bears the biggest burden when it comes to this is African Americans.
Even with all the decreases that have been found concerning STD rates, namely gonorrhea, African Americans still remain as the racial group that is most impacted by these diseases. Black women ages 15 to 24 are highly susceptible to contracting gonorrhea from their partners, who just so happen to be African American men for the most part. Aside from gonorrhea, another STD that is on the rise is syphilis. Mind you, this disease can spread and can cause some serious damage to other body parts and vital organs. So leaving this disease untreated could be life threatening for both genders.
With all these many ways to keep our bodies free from STDs, why is it that Black Americans seem to always be the ones harboring these diseases more than anyone else?
According to the CDC, there are “a range of factors contributes to these disparities, including poverty, lack of access to health care”. This does make a lot of sense but at the same time, could it also be due to our nonchalant attitudes when it comes to this topic? I don’t know when it started but for some reason some of us don’t take getting STDs as serious as we should, especially the ones that we know are curable. Seems like we only start to really pay attention when someone is talking about HIV as if it’s the only harmful one out there. And it shouldn’t be that way.
Furthermore, having a curable STD means nothing when you have no idea that you have it. Yes, it’s great that many of these STDs can be cured by taking a round of antibiotics. But if you have no idea that you have one, what good is that going to do for you? Not knowing your status when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases can lead to irreversible complications, especially where we women are concerned. Infertility is a major thing that stems from having an untreated STD and that alone should be more of a reason for us to get tested regularly.
No matter how safe you deem your sex life to be, STD screenings should be done any time a person is sexually active, even if you are only having sex with one person. If it’s unprotected, then you need to get tested. Numbers don’t lie. And with how high some of them are, it’s very clear that some of us are walking around thinking we don’t have any STDs when in actuality we do, often times more than one.