Complications from sickle cell disease significantly reduce patient life expectancy to 38 years for men, and 42 years for women. Sickle cell disease is prevalent in patients with sub-African ancestry. Genetic engineering and biologic research has paved the way for potentially curing therapies and supportive medications. However, inequalities in the United States healthcare system present barriers for Black sickle cell patients to receive access to these medical breakthroughs. Studies found that one in three Black Americans carry one copy of the sickle cell disease, which may be passed to their offspring, but may be symptomless. One in 365 Black Americans is born with this blood disease.
The most effective treatment plan for sickle cell patients includes genetic counseling, transfusions, penicillin prophylaxis to prevent sepsis, and an annual transcranial doppler (TCD) ultrasound to prevent the risk of stroke. Researchers gathered data from various studies, medical organizations, and hospitals about the treatment of sickle cell disease in Black American Children and adults.
Studies revealed that Black Americans face systemic racism from the medical community that prevents them receiving proper medical care. Only 18% of Black children receive antibiotics for at least 300 days a year. It was reported that over half of Black children with sickle cell do not receive TCD screening.
Black adult Americans also experience racism when seeking emergency medical treatment during pain crises. There is a racial bias in the medical community that causes doctors and nurses to dismiss patients and assume that Black patients are seeking narcotics, such as opioids. This racism causes Black patients with sickle cell to be neglected and left untreated during pain crises.
In conclusion, America’s medical system is tainted by racism that is destroying the lives of Black American sickle cell patients. Lack of resources for sickle cell treatment for the Black community, and neglect by medical staff during pain crises is wreaking havoc on patient quality of life and life expectancy. These studies prove that this systemic racism must be addressed, and resources need to be made available to Black Sickle Cell Patients.