5 minute read




“Unintended self-harm”

What the health is going on in our society today? Many ignore signs of distress or a doctor’s visit to prevent a deduction in our weekly pay. We have normalised our aches and pains instead of seeking medical consult, but self-neglect equates to personal insult. Could it be that we have been taught to hope and pray for the best? Or is it that we are afraid of the costly diagnostic test.

What the health is going on in our society today? Are we willing to ignore the stats and believe that we are okay? Or is it necessary for us to spread the facts on health disparities to the youth of today. We must raise health awareness and do our best to inform. Or we will lose a generation to unintended self-harm.

By Drs. Veronica Huggins and Phoneshia Wells

What the Health? Major health disparities among Women of Color Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A woman is like a tea bag - you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Although Women of Color are resilient in many respects, they continue to face health care challenges (Kasier Family). A person’s health status can be reflective in their physical and mental abilities. Women often ignore signs relating to their health until situations are nearly debilitating or fatal. There are innumerable health disparities among Women of Color, this article will highlight the impact of Cervical Cancer, HIV and AIDS, and the lack of prenatal care

among Women of Color. According to the NY Times, the rate at which cervical cancer affects Women of Color is parallel to rates in undeveloped countries. African American women are more likely to die from cervical cancer than Caucasian women. Likewise, cervical cancer is affecting Hispanic women at alarming numbers. In the community of Rio Grande Valley (located near the border of Mexico), Hispanic women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer and half of the population are uninsured as opposed to women across the U.S (Houston Chronicle).

Research states that many women of color are not as proactive regarding preventative care. In some cases, cervical cancer can be treatable with preventative measures such as annual pap smears, regular check-ups and the HPV vaccine (The Hill). Health care disparities among women of color are positively correlated with a lack of access to health care and insurance. Many Women of Color lack health insurance coverage or they are underinsured. Many neglect to go their annual physician’s visits or do not take part in preventative care measures because they cannot afford it.

Since the beginning of the AIDS widespread, women have been affected. Statistics now reveal alarming findings. According to Kasier, a surveillance report obtained by the CDC in 2004, found that minorities had significantly higher incidence rates of aids diagnoses. Black women had the highest rate of 50.1, Hispanic 12.4, American Indians and Alaska Natives 7.0 and Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander women had the fewest at 1.8.

In 2006, Karina Danvers shared her plight with The Foundation for AIDS Research. She was infected with AIDS as a teenager by her husband. She was asked many years ago how she could be affected by AIDS and appear so healthy. Danvers reported she did not have a response at that time. However, years later she responded with: “Because I’m not poor, because I have not only a good high school education but a graduate degree. Because I have good private medical insurance. Because I’m middle class. And although I’m a minority—I’m a Latina—I’m bilingual, not monolingual.”

Another disparity among women of color is late prenatal care or in some instances no prenatal care at all. According to The Hill, in the U.S. black infant’s mortality rates doubles the rate of white infants. Undoubtedly socioeconomics plays a part with health disparities. For an example, In Washington, D.C. Ward 8 is considered the poorest neighborhood with a majority-African American population. Ward 8 has an infant mortality rate 10 times higher then Ward 3 where most inhabitants are Caucasians. According to Kasier Family Foundation, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana led the rates with the lowest birthweight for African Americans with a 15 % rate or higher.

The aforementioned statistics are difficult to accept and it is imperative that society help bridge the gap to increase access to health care. There are many ways to minimize the disparities among Women of Color. Education and awareness are vital! Public health initiatives should strive to create methods such as host formative sessions in communities, build partnership as well as document successful impact for those who will carry the torch. Interpreters should be available at informational sessions to guarantee that the attendees are able to understand and benefit from the information. Informational poverty will certainly exacerbate the disparities among

Women of Color so it is our responsibility to develop strategies to implement change. Health disparities should be a topic of the past, in contrary it is a disheartened reality. Education is paramount in reducing rates of cervical cancer, cases of HIV and AIDS, and improving prenatal care among Women of Color. We cannot reverse the irreversible, but we can educate on access to healthcare and the significance of preventative care.


D. G. 2017, March 8. For women of color, the ‘healthcare gap’ is real and deadly [Web log post]. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/ healthcare/322874-for-women-of-colorthe-healthcare-gap-is-real-and-deadly
HIV’s Alarming Impact on Women of Color. 2006, January 23. Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://www.amfar.org/ articles/on-the-hill/older/hiv%E2%80%99salarming-impact-on-women-of-color
Hixenbaugh, M. 2016, November 25. Houston doctors determined to reduce cervical cancer deaths in Rio Grande Valley. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://www. houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/ houston/article/Houston-doctors-take-mobileclinic-to-Rio-Grande-10636122.php
Hoffman, J. (2017, January 23). Wider Racial Gap Found in Cervical Cancer Deaths. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/health/ cervical-cancer-united-states-death-toll.html
James, C. V., Salganicoff, A., Thomas, M., Ranjwi, U., Lillie-Blanton, M., Kaiser Family Foundation, H. J., & Wyn, R. (n.d.). Putting Women’s Health Care Disparities On The Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level (pp. 1-104, Rep. No. 7886). doi:https://kaiserfamilyfoundation. files.wordpress.com/2013/01/7886.pdf