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Planned Parenthood Addresses Issue of African-American Women and STDs at CBC Conference

Rep. Donna Edwards Moderates Discussion on Factors Influencing Health Disparities and Possible Solutions


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) presented “The Cost of Silence: A Symposium on African-American Women and Increase in STDs” at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2009 Legislative Conference on Friday, September 25, 2009.

The forum was moderated by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD-4), and dealt directly with the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases that is affecting the African-American community. At least half of African-American girls have the human papillomavirus, or HPV, and African Americans as a whole, while making up approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for 51 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2007.

“There are incredible disparities when it comes to public education materials that are specific to different cultures and age groups,” said Rep. Edwards. “It is eminently clear that we have a problem of sexually transmitted infections that we are not talking about in predominantly African-American and Latino communities. There are a lot of reasons we haven’t unearthed these conversations, but we can’t afford that anymore. We have to redouble our efforts because our communities are suffering greatly, especially women. We really value our partners who are working with so many of us.”

Also on hand to give their insights on these serious health disparities were Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs, PPFA; Dr. Donald Shell, health officer, Prince George’s County Department of Health; Rev. Tony Lee, Community of Hope A.M.E. Church in Temple Hills, MD; and India Hay, teen peer educator, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC.

“There’s a misperception that somehow our young people are more promiscuous than any other group. That is not the case,” said Dr. Cullins. “The answer is complicated and includes several social and economic factors, including the lack of access to medical care, social stigmas attached to STDs, and the seeming unwillingness to normalize the discussion of sexual and reproductive health in the black community.”

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 39th Annual Legislative Conference was held on Friday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.


September 25, 2009

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Planned Parenthood Addresses Issue of African-American Women and STDs at CBC Conference