Is Cervical Cancer a Black Woman Killer?


Researchers from the University of South Carolina have discovered that black women are about twice as more likely to develop cervical cancer than other women.

By: A.J. Niles

The human papillomavirus, HPV, is a rather nasty family sexual transmitted diseases that is the known culprit behind herpes and cervical cancer. Strains of HPV are transmitted rather easily during sex and is one of the most widely transmitted STD’s in the world today. Black women are a group of women that have an increased likelihood to contract a strain of the virus and subsequently develop cervical cancer.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina may have discovered that the increased chance of cervical cancer is not just due to a lack of testing, but can be contributed to possible biological factors, reports the Westside Gazette.

Doctors have long thought that less access to screening and follow-up health care were the reasons Black women are 40 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer and twice as likely to die from it. The new study involving young college women suggests there might be a biological explanation for the racial disparity, too.

If further study confirms this novel finding, it would make the HPV vaccine even more important for Black women, said Worta McCaskill-Stevens, a prevention specialist at the National Cancer Institute. The vaccine is recommended for all girls starting at age 11.

The female USC students that participated in the study, 326 white and 113 black women, were given pap smears and tested for HPV every six months during their time at the university. The results of these tests were astonishing.

At any checkup, Blacks were 1.5 times more likely to test positive for infection with one of the HPV strains that raise cancer risk, said study leader Kim Creek.

The African-American women weren’t clearing the virus as fast. They were actually holding onto it about six months longer, for 18 months versus 12 months for whites, he said.

Ten percent of Blacks had abnormal Pap tests versus 6 percent of whites.

Two years after initial infections were found, 56 percent of Black women were still infected but only 24 percent of whites remained infected.

This studies is just another in a long line of others that showcase the increased likelihood of black women becoming infected and dying from STD’s. Recently, a study of black women in Atlanta showed that HIV infection rates are reaching epidemic levels. These infection rates rival the infection rates of various African Countries.


  1. It would be nice if they offered an explanation as to why we get cervical cancer at higher rates. It’s frustrating that we are always hearing that we’re the most likely to die from something, but they can never tell us why. It’s not empowering when we aren’t given the whole picture.

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