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Making Sickle Cell a Health Equity Issue

A recent Kaiser Health News article explores racial health disparities related to sickle cell anemia. While the hereditary blood disorder affects approximately 100,000 Americans, African Americans are most likely to have sickle cell. Increasingly, research has revealed that genetics alone do not explain the poor health outcomes associated with the disease. Instead, sickle cell patients face disparities in treatment and quality of care rooted in racial discrimination and socioeconomic status.

The disease has historically had less visibility than other chronic conditions. Public and private funding, for example, is significantly lower for sickle cell compared to illnesses like cystic fibrosis that primarily affect white people. Studies have also found that sickle cell patients have to wait longer for help in the emergency department compared to people with other pain-related conditions. Many African American sickle cell patients are also more likely to lack access to consistent treatment and specialty care. 

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