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Black / African American Health Care: Sickle Cell

Sickle Cell Disease

SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke. (CDC)

Who Is Affected By Sickle Cell Disease?

  • It is estimated that SCD affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the United States, mainly Blacks or African Americans.
  • The disease occurs among about 1 of every 500 Black or African-American births and among about 1 out of every 36,000 Hispanic-American births.

About Sickle Cell Disease

Racial Health Disparities and Sickle cell Disease

"SCD has been neglected in the US in large part due to the race and wealth of the affected constituency. While recommended procedures have proven effective in improving quality of life for children with SCD, most are not receiving said care, and little has been done to increase compliance with preventative measures. Decades of stagnation in SCD treatment development recently drew to a close with the advent of potentially curative genetic therapies and next-generation supportive medications. Given the long track record of divestment from SCD in the US, it is imperative that these novel treatments be made accessible for those most affected."

-Sickle cell disease: A case study of systemic racial disparities in US healthcare (2020)

"We argue that it is through structural violence—a systemic series of policies, institutions, and practices—that individuals who live with SCD suffer from health disparities. Similarly, we argue against other suggested mechanisms and causes, such as purely economic factors or low public interest and knowledge."

- The Effect of Structural Violence on Patients with Sickle Cell Disease (2019), doi: 10.1353/hpu.2015.0094

“[These results] speaks to a need for health equity for patients with sickle cell disease, as they are at risk of significantly more severe expression of COVID-19."

- COVID-19 Outcomes in Individuals with Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait Compared to Blacks without Sickle Cell Disease or Trait