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According to new research black women have more trouble than white women in clearing the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. Black women are two times more likely to die from this cancer. It turns out that genetics, not the accessibility of screening and follow-up health care options, is the reason why black women are 40 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer.
Getting vaccinated is becoming a more important issue for black women. Some strains of HPV pass on their own and do not pose risks of cancer unless they last for a long time. Research at the University of South Carolina in Columbia sampled 439 women (326 white and 113 black) and are smear tested every 6 months. This is an exam where cervical cells are scrapped and then tested in a lab.
Black women are 1.5 times more likely to test positive for for an HPV infection that can cause cancer. According to Kim Creek (the leader of this study), “The African-American women weren’t clearing the virus as fast. They were actually holding onto it about six months longer.” In fact, 10% of black women had abnormal smear tests compared to white women who presented %6 abnormality.
Although the rate of cervical cancer has drastically declined in the United States because of smear testing,about 12,000 new cases and 4,200 deaths result from cervical cancer. Doctors are not sure about how HPV vaccination will affect future HPV test results so cervical cancer screenings are still recommended.
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