Impact of Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding African American Sexual Behavior on STD Prevention and Control in African American Communities: Unintended Consequences

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Abstract

Compared to whites, blacks experience significant health disparities for sexually transmitted diseases, particularly in the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. To develop more effective interventions to control and prevent STDs, public health practitioners should better understand and respond to factors that facilitate sexual risk-taking behaviors and impede access to STD health care and make use of factors that promote sexual health. Legacies of slavery, racism, and economic or class discrimination leave many blacks suspicious of interventions aimed at improving the welfare of their communities. Sexual behavior, in particular, has been used to justify social oppression of blacks in the United States. Although efforts to engage affected black communities in improving STD health care delivery have been undertaken, bias, prejudice, and stereotyping continue to contribute to negative experiences for many blacks across health care settings, including those involving STD care. Implementing more effective interventions to reduce the disparate burden of bacterial STDs in black communities requires accessible and acceptable STD health care. Understanding and addressing the potential impact of both provider and patient attitudes can improve these service delivery outcomes.

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