Given the legacy of race and racism in the United States, the reproductive health challenges and opportunities that the nation faces are similar but often exacerbated for the Black community. They affect the community in very specific and unique ways.
Access to Affordable Birth Control
Birth control is immensely popular, with more than 99% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active having utilized it at some point in their lives. Support for birth control cuts across gender and race and economic lines. Women and men from all different background realize the importance of being able to choose when and whether to have a family. Perhaps this is why support among young African-American women for covering prescription birth control as preventive care was an astounding 92%.
Early Detection: The Importance of Breast Cancer Screenings
Breast exams, along with mammograms, can improve the chance of detecting breast cancer early. And the earlier breast cancer is detected and treated, the better for your health.
These exams are especially important for African-American women for whom the disease presents a particular challenge. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, African-American women are most likely to die from the disease — they are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Regular breast exams help greatly reduce those numbers.
Actress Gabrielle Union knows the importance of early testing and the importance of being proactive with your health care. Watch her explain why this issue is so important to her in the video below:
Access to Safe and Legal Abortion
African Americans have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy and a higher rate of abortion than non-Hispanic whites. It is important however to look at the underlying issues behind high abortion rates. High rates of abortion are related to poverty and lack of access to prevention services. Planned Parenthood health centers have provided health care in the United States for over 100 years and know that a disproportionate number of Black women face multiple barriers to accessing quality, affordable health care, which leads to higher rates of both unintended pregnancy and abortion.
For more than a century, Planned Parenthood has worked to address racial and economic bias in access to health care. More than anyone else, we work to prevent abortions by providing women with important information about sexual health, including helping them select the appropriate form of contraception, if that is a choice they would like to make. Improved access to reproductive health services as well as addressing overall economic challenges, go a long way to combating disparities in the Black community.
HIV/AIDS and African Americans
Raising awareness for HIV/AIDS in the Black community is a critical priority. With approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in this country, including more than 500,000 African Americans, African Americans account for almost half of all HIV infections in the United States.
There are a number of reasons why HIV remains such a problem for African Americans, including lack of insurance and access to health care. But, there is good news. Under the Affordable Care Act, millions more people will be eligible for health insurance and preventive care like HIV testing, with no additional copay. As one of the nation's leading provider of HIV screenings, Planned Parenthood health centers conducted more than 650,000 HIV tests in 2015 alone. With increased access under the new health care law, Planned Parenthood health centers across the country stand ready to help even more African Americans access this critical preventive care in our nation's fight against HIV/AIDS.
Actor/activist Alex Newell, ("Unique" on FOX's Glee) speaks about the importance of HIV/AIDS testing in the video below: