All of you who cry foul whenever a new study points out the “alarming” rates of STDs among minorities may be on to something. A new study by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute has found that young minority women are screened for chlamydia at a significantly higher rate than young white women, and this discrepancy may contribute to nationwide reporting of higher rates of this sexually transmitted disease among black and Hispanic women.
In the study, which is published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers looked at the screening rates for 40,000 young women ages 14 to 25 and found black women were 2.7 times more likely to be screened for chlamydia than white women. For Hispanic young women that rate was 9.7 times higher. Race wasn’t the only thing that led to higher testing rates, though, women with public insurance also had greater odds of chlamydia testing, compared with women with private insurance.
“For some common conditions like breast cancer, white women are more likely to receive a screening test like mammography. For chlamydia infections – which are highly stigmatized STDs – white women are less likely, while minority women are more likely, to receive screening,” said the study’s first author Sarah E. Wiehe, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist. “This may mean that providers make judgments about a woman’s likelihood of infection based on her race or ethnicity. Yet in an asymptomatic condition like chlamydia, all sexually active young women should be screened.”
It’s definitely true that you always find what you’re looking for, and if doctors are sticklers for testing minority women it’s no wonder they find STDs at the rates that they do. While they’re spending time profiling minority women, they may want to pay a little more attention to what’s going on in white people’s backyards as well. These results obviously don’t take away from the fact that we still have an issue with STDs in our community, but healthcare advocates may need to slow down on making chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases “black issues” and start screening white women at equal rates.
Are you regularly asked to be tested for chlamydia and other STDs?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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