Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Fighting The Sickle Cell Anemia Stigma
By JR Perry (Special to Sentinel)
Published March 5, 2009

There's quite a lot of stigma toward the whole subject of sickle cell anemia.

People can feel guilty because they carry a gene and they choose not to talk about it.


So they need to talk about it to start breaking down the barriers and the stigma.

People are a bit sensitive about screening but you now can be enrolled on a program and start to care for your baby with sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia can no longer be overlooked upon as a largely black disorder. There has been the crossing of racial boundaries with sickle cell. 

Sickle cell anemia has not been highlighted because it is a black disorder so it has not received any spotlight with interracial mixing. We are starting to see white babies born with sickle cell anemia. Although times have changed people still have a stigma about sickle cell anemia they think it is a "curse of the devil". Many physicians and scientists both black and white have complained that restrictions against blacks with the sickle cell trait was a senseless stigma and unscientific suggestion that their genes were somehow inferior in addition of its use in barring blacks.

From the air force academy the trait has also been cited by the navy in keeping blacks out of the submarine service and by the army although they will not allow the sickle cell trait carriers to become aircrew members. This policy persists in the air force itself despite today's change in admissions policy but it is under review. Blacks have also been charged more money for insurance policies when it was learned that they had the trait. Sickle cell trait screening has not been limited to the military or to the insurance companies in the chemical industry theories have been expounded for years that sickle cell trait carriers were at special risk in the chemical work place.

The Dupont Company said in February 1980 that it routinely gave pre-employment blood test to all blacks to determine who might be a sickle cell trait carrier. Today the law would be condemned as racial profiling.  The stigma was made worse by a misunderstanding of the inheritance of the condition contrary to report of premature deaths carriers of the sickle cell gene were in almost all cases, healthy genetic screening and public immunization programs have also raised suspicions among blacks and sickle cell anemia. Screening programs of the 1970's created misinformation confusion and feared inadequate planning and preparation on the part of the medical profession and public health officials and a disease and having it resulted in unnecessary stigma and discrimination as a result. Of this confusion and misinformation a great suspicion arose in the African American community that the sickle cell policy was another instrument of genocide.



Categories: Health

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