A new report from the Human Rights Watch has revealed some shocking information. The study revealed that Black women across the United States have a significantly higher chance of contracting cervical cancer, as well as disproportionately higher rates of passing away from the disease. 

The study decided to focus on the state of Georgia to further examine the reason behind their findings, and learned that “neglect and exclusion” in the nation’s flawed healthcare system is the main culprit.  

Buzzfeed previously reported that “if caught early, cervical cancer is highly treatable, with a ninety three percent five-year survival rate.” But still, the Human Rights Watch has found that more than 4,000 women die of the disease each year, with mortality rates “more than double” of those seen in white women. The study even added that “the disparity between Black and white women starts at an early age and increases with age, so the oldest Black women are the most at risk to die of this disease.”

You may be asking yourself why this is.

In order for sexual and reproductive concerns to be identified and addressed in women, they must annually take a pap test, administered by their gynecologist. This test allows the gynecologist to collect cells from the cervix, which are then analyzed under a microscope for any discrepancies. 

It was discovered, however, that Black women in Georgia (especially in rural areas) are less likely to get those screenings or be diagnosed because “nearly half of Georgia’s counties lack an OB-GYN.” In addition, seven Georgia hospitals have closed since 2020, thirty eight labor and delivery units have closed since 1994 and over 250,000 residents of Georgia are uninsured. 

This finding is reflective of the cracks in the healthcare system of the nation at large. Annerieke Daniel, a researcher for the Human Rights Watch, explains “This pattern of neglect and exclusion from the healthcare system should be front and center. No one should be dying from this disease, and Black women should not be dying at disproportionate rates.”

Read more about cervical health awareness here.

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