Beyond the Statistics: Black Women and Sexual Health
Part 2 of the series touched upon black women’s sexual health, citing a few statistics including one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that while African-American and Hispanic women account for 27% of the U.S. population, they account for 79% of all HIV cases among women. The CDC also reports that black women contract STDs at some of the highest rates:
• The rate of chlamydia among black women was seven times the rate of chlamydia among white women
• 47% of syphilis cases were among blacks
• 60% of gonorrhea cases were among blacks
Health equity, the idea that everyone has an equal opportunity to be healthy regardless of their background, does not exist in the black community. Conditions such as poverty, few jobs and lower education levels are much more likely to affect access to quality sexual health services. Once again, just like reproductive health, sexual health can’t be examined outside of the context of socioeconomic factors.
Writer Nneka Okona addresses the startling statistics about black women and their sexual health in her October 2014 For Harriet article, “10 Things Black Women Should Know About Sexual Health.” In the article, Okona encourages black women (assuming they have access to quality sexual health services) to let the statistics motivate–not frighten–them into making healthy choices about their sexual lives.
“Owning both your reproductive and sexual health is a journey that ends and begins with you,” Okona writes. “Do your research, talk to medical professionals if you have specific questions, open up the lines of communication about it with friends and partners. It’s your life. Claim your agency.”
In spite of limiting reproductive laws and ideologies that perpetuate purity as the golden standard, sexual health is something we have more control over than we’re led to believe if we have access to proper care and are empowered to think and act for ourselves.
Next Page: Insured, Uninsured and Underinsured: Decoding Access to Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act