Can New STD Guidelines Save Black Women’s Lives?

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Chlamydia screening test sample underneath a medical form

Experts continue to be concerned about the high contraction rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among blacks. For a variety of reasons, the percentages of black women being infected by STDs continues to be at least twice as high as their white counterparts.

According to CDC statistics:

  • 89% of new HIV cases in 2011 involved black women.
  • 69% of all reported cases of gonorrhea occurred among blacks. The rate for black women was 16 times higher than whites.
  • The rate of chlamydia among black women was over seven times the rate among white women.
  • The rate of syphilis among black women was 21 times the rate among white women.

According to HealthDay, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has drafted a recommendation to more regularly screen all sexually active American women and girls, especially for chlamydia and gonorrhea, which many times have no symptoms.

“Many women with chlamydia and gonorrhea infections do not experience any initial symptoms. They are at risk for long-term complications including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and chronic pelvic pain,” LeFevre said. “For these women, screening for these infections and treating them can make a difference.”

The new draft recommendations also suggest that women older than 24 get screened for the diseases if they’re at special risk. “Risk factors include having a new sex partner, having more than one sex partner, having a sexual partner infected with a STD, inconsistent condom use, a history of previous or co-existing STDs and exchanging sex for money or drugs.

“Age is a strong risk factor for both chlamydia and gonorrhea. Sexually active women age 20 to 24 years have the highest infection rates, followed by women age 15 to 19 years,” said Dr. Michael LeFevre, chair of the task force. “Infection rates among men are highest between the ages of 20 and 24 years.”

According to WebMD, there are some basic steps you should ALWAYS take to help protect yourself and your partner:

  • Use a latex condom every time you have sex, especially with new partners.
  • If you use a lubricant, make sure it is water-based.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Practice monogamy (the other person must practive monogamy, as well).
  • Talk to any sex partner about their sex history before sex.
  • Choose your sex partners with care – never assume what they do or don’t have based on how they look.
  • Get checked for STDs regularly.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of STDs.
  • Learn about STDs. The more you know, the better you can protect yourself.
  • If you have an STD, stop having sex until you see a doctor and are completely treated.
  • If you are diagnosed with an STD, be sure any partners are treated as well.
  • Abstain from sex.

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