Take advantage of low-cost preventive services

Black PR Wire | 7/6/2015, 7:19 a.m.
The National Coalition for Sexual Health, which consists of over 50 leading health and medical organizations, issued a call-to-action on ...

WASHINGTON – The National Coalition for Sexual Health, which consists of over 50 leading health and medical organizations, issued a call-to-action on June 24 to increase the uptake of essential preventive sexual health care services in the African American community in an effort to protect and improve sexual health, as well as save lives.

With historic levels of insurance coverage, most African Americans can now access recommended preventive sexual health services for free, including the HPV vaccine, female contraceptives, pap smears and screening for sexually transmitted diseases, such as Chlamydia and HIV.

However, many African Americans are not currently benefitting from these important services, which are vital to the overall health and well being of the community.

“You and your health matter. We know you have a lot on your plate, but we all need to make room for our sexual health. Just like protecting your heart health, managing your blood pressure and exercising regularly – it’s worth your time,” said Christian J. Thrasher, M.A., director of The Center of Excellence for Sexual Health, Morehouse School of Medicine. “We have a tremendous opportunity here. An unprecedented number of people now have access – at no cost – to these safe and effective preventive services that have been endorsed by leading medical organizations nationwide. We need to take advantage of these services.”

Recommended for all Americans by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, these preventive services can help prevent many male and female cancers, unplanned pregnancies, and detect and treat common STDs before they cause serious problems.

“Knowledge is power. It’s important to take charge of your own sexual health, and get informed about the services that are recommended for you. Don’t assume that you are automatically getting these services when you go to your health care provider. You need to ask your provider to be sure,” NCSH Co-Director Susan Gilbert said.

NCSH created a free guide, Take Charge of Your Sexual Health: What you need to know about preventive services, and website that features action steps for good sexual health, charts of recommended services for men and women, questions to ask health care providers and other resources at http://www.ncshguide.org.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. In fact, nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. The HPV vaccine is the first and only vaccine available that can protect both women and men against multiple types of HPV-associated cancers including cervical, penile, throat and mouth, and anal cancer as well as genital warts.

“Since nearly everyone will be exposed to HPV at some point in their life, it’s essential that everyone who is eligible gets vaccinated. Parents, it’s particularly important to get your kids vaccinated before they become sexually active,” said Yolanda Wimberly, M.D., M.S., FAAP, pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at Morehouse School of Medicine.

“Talking with your kids about the HPV vaccine presents a great opportunity to talk with them about their sexual health. Studies show that kids who talk with their parents about sex are more likely to delay having sex and more likely to use condoms when they do have sex. However, if you’re not ready for that conversation, you can simply tell them it’s a cancer-prevention vaccine. How many kids ever ask what shots are for, anyway?”