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.