According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women account for the highest number of infections among women compared to other races. This issue has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a steep decline in HIV testing and diagnoses.
Tiara Willie, an assistant professor of mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, spoke to NPR about the epidemic. “If we don’t figure out how we can change the system, we’re just going to continue to keep failing Black women,” she said.
Black women aren’t typically the first demographic to come to mind when this miracle medication is brought up, as it’s primarily promoted toward gay and bisexual men, who are most commonly affected by HIV. However, many Black women are afflicted with the virus, yet many lack the means and resources to treat it.
Historically, the healthcare system has primarily neglected Black women, leaving them with fewer treatment options than their counterparts. The CDC reported that Black women face many barriers in health care when receiving care for HIV, including racism, poverty, and general stigma. Combined with the already few treatments available, the FDA has only approved two PrEP options for women, Truvada and Apretude, out of three currently available treatments – which has left Black women more vulnerable than ever.
Moreover, Black women are often neglected when it comes to the development of these treatments. With its smaller pill size, the third available PrEP medication, Descovy, is attractive to many people and has been approved for men and transgender women. But, because it was not tested on cisgender women, its efficacy is not guaranteed. This exclusion has upset many HIV advocates and researchers, who feel that, by omitting cisgender women from this crucial research, they are left more susceptible to the virus.
As several advocates have shone a light on this issue, many are calling on healthcare practitioners to do their due diligence as far as awareness and accessibility goes, lest Black women fall further through the cracks.
Source: Black Enterprise