Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Black Community and Herpes

I am, by nature, skeptical of Big Pharma. I always look beyond the obvious when they say something, because I naturally believe that they are up to no good at the expense of the little person.

I came upon this article about the debate among some in the Black community about a new advertising campaign aimed at Blacks by GlaxoSmithKline to educate the community about the risks of herpes.

Yes, I know that they are all about making money and selling their drug, but facts are facts: Black people suffer from herpes at a rate far higher than White people. And, we are at a further disadvantage as a community because so many of our people do not know that they are infected.

Here is the possible controversy:

Some experts worry that the campaign may lead to widespread testing and large-scale treatment of people who do not have symptoms -- a strategy not recommended by federal health authorities. Even Glaxo's supporters think the effort is likely to be controversial.

So, there's the other side. Do we want widespread testing in the Black community? What will happen with this possible database? Are some people who are NOT positive going to be treated for it anyway, meaning they'll be given a drug that they don't need? I understand the legacy of medical apartheid when it comes to the Black community, but I do wonder sometimes if our own skepticism now hurts us with regards to getting needed treatment? And, how do we get treatment if we don't get tested?

The stats on Blacks and Herpes:

A federal survey in the early 1990s found that 21 percent of American adults had the infection. Among blacks, the rate was 48 percent. A follow-up survey this decade found that the national prevalence had fallen to 17 percent, but in blacks it had not gone down significantly.

In about 40 percent of newly infected people, the virus causes painful, pimple-like sores on the genitals. Although they eventually go away even without treatment, they can reappear every few months. In most people, recurrences are less frequent as time passes. In the survey, only one in 10 people who tested positive knew they were infected. A person without symptoms can transmit the virus to a sexual partner.

So, how can we begin to fight the disease if 90% of the people who have it don't know it? I don't know the answer, but thought the article was worth the read.


mark said...

Do condoms protect from Herpes and is their a vaccine for herpes. I believe that black folks need to get together amongst our selves and have serious and real conversation about health.

One aspect of the conversation on health should include teaching that all unmarried black people having sex should be using condoms. Period.

It is the only way to cut the rate of aids I believe the preachers (many of whom carry on extra marrital affairs) should start advising the brothas in church to use condoms if they dont wait until marraige. A female elder in the church should advise very strongly that unmarried women having sex make sure their partners use condoms during sex.

The church needs to start talking about responsible sexual behavior as well as the monumental importance of brothas taking care of their children but black parents being proactive and talking to their children honestly about responsible sexual behavior and protection.

I think the black church needs to start talking about herpes and all other sexually transmitted diseases, they need to set up hiv testing and treatment centers in all of their churches they can teach each other how to set up these services one by one.

Black people really need to stop living in denial and do something to change our all to often sad realities.

Sorry for the long postk, but I think you should go to the churches, the Naacp, Urban league and all of our other social and force them to start teaching and advising on these issues in a thoughtful and helpful way.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]I naturally believe that they are up to no good at the expense of the little person[/quote]

There is always the option to NOT take the remedy that they are putting on the market.

The bottom line in all of this is that that BLACK COMMUNITY ultimately bears the responsibility and the burden for all of our behavioral choices that expose us to risk, the consequences of being beholden to FEARS of the past and the tendency to allow "Pills, Pamphlets and Devices" which attempt to shield us from our actions to attempt to take the place of SOUND CHOICES that would otherwise have us avoid the drama in the first place.

Take everything that you said about herpes and add to this both the low rate of Black participation in "Clinical Trials" for new medications as well as low organ donor rates. Black PATIENTS who would later benefit from the effects of certain treatments on Blacks as well as people who need organs but lack a pool of Black folks to choose from SUFFER because of the continued fear and mistrust of the medical establishment.

Truly there are COSTS associated with the promulgation of historical acts that are not the case today.

Just me. said...

I don't see how widespread testing can pose any harm. Currently, many doctors DO NOT test for herpes unless you specifically ask to be tested. How would anyone know to further protect themselves or other people if they didn't know they were infected with the virus? About 80% of the people infected with HSV don't even know they have it.

Condoms do offer protection from herpes, but isn't 100% as some people get outbreaks in areas that are not covered by the condom.

Kristina said...

This is an incredibly interesting post. Granted that it's a little old but then my interest in the disease began only recently(I was diagnosed in late 2008). I agree with all the other comments. Sex education is important and the importance of condoms cannot be reiterated. Recently I started a website that contributes to the information out there and I'd like to refer to this post.

- Kristina
at Cure for Herpes

Anonymous said...

Condoms reduce the risk of herpes by only 30%. And oral herpes (cold sores) can be transferred to a partner's genitals.