STI Health Disparities
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) unfairly affect different minority groups which leads to health disparities. Health disparities are when a specific population has a significant difference in health outcomes compared to the overall population. As a result, health disparities can be caused by health inequities. Health inequities are disparities in health care that is systematic, avoidable, and unjust.
What are the STI health disparities among minority groups?
Research from the CDC shows that there are higher rates of STIs among some racial and ethnic minority groups compared to the overall population. This includes higher rates for:
- Chlamydia: Is a common STI that can be spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It is easy to treat but may cause infertility for women if left untreated too long.
- Gonorrhea: Is a common STI that can be spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It is easy to treat.
- Syphilis: Is an STI that is easy to treat but can cause health issues if left untreated too long. It is divided into stages based on symptoms shown.
- Congenital syphilis: Is an STI that affects babies if a mother with syphilis passes it on during pregnancy. It can cause serious health issues for a baby before and after birth.
Minority groups that are unfairly affected by STIs are:
- Black Americans
- Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders
- Hispanic Americans
- American Indian/Alaska Native
- Asian Americans
- People that are multiracial
Why are STIs higher among minority groups?
Health disparities in STIs are due to social factors that are more likely to affect minority groups. These social factors include lower income levels, fewer job opportunities, and fewer education opportunities. As a result, these factors may lead to:
- Not being able to afford basic needs that may make it harder to access quality healthcare services.
- Distrust in the healthcare system or fearing discrimination from healthcare providers that may cause avoiding testing and treatment for STIs.
- Increased chance of getting an STI due to being more likely to be with a partner that has an STI.
- Cultural and language barriers that make it harder to understand and receive healthcare services.
It is important to note that these differences are not because of a specific individual or population– but due to systemic, societal, and cultural barriers in STI testing and treatment.
How can we stop STI health disparities among minority groups?
To help stop STI health disparities among minority groups, we must achieve health equity. Health equity is when everyone has an equal chance to be healthy regardless of who they are. We can reach health equity by:
- Acknowledging and addressing the inequities in STIs.
- Empowering affected groups and their communities.
- Working together to address the systemic inequities.
- Increasing access to quality STI testing and treatment services.
If you are seeking STI testing and treatment services, take control today and find a healthcare provider near you.