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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with Dr. Alecia Nero, hematologist and associate professor in internal medicine and pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, we discuss treatment disparities in sickle cell disease (SCD). We also discuss how hematologists can help rectify sickle cell disease disparities. 

Dr. Nero is the Director of UT Southwestern’s Transition Sickle Cell Program and Adult Sickle Cell Program. UT Southwestern is part of the Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Trials Network. 

MD Newsline:

What disparities in SCD treatment have you observed in your clinical practice and research? 

 

Dr. Alecia Nero:

“The biggest disparity is we lack the ability to offer more therapies. We need the research to develop therapeutic options, and that’s severely limited in sickle cell disease. This lack of research impacts the care that we deliver. So we’re challenged to adequately treat patients with the therapies we have available.”

 

MD Newsline:

How would you recommend hematologists work to rectify SCD disparities? 

 

Dr. Alecia Nero:

“We have to recognize our implicit bias and be champions in rectifying sickle cell disease disparities.There are very few hematologists who take care of patients with sickle cell disease. So those of us that do are called to advocate for our patients by working with partners across medical specialties. It’s challenging to take on this work on top of the work we already do, but I find it very impactful.”

Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.

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