Alabama has the highest rate of cervical cancer deaths in the US, according to a troubling new report released by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, AL.com reports.
The report blasts the state for its lax approach to cervical cancer, which is curable when detected early. According to the report, it takes on average 10 to 15 years before the virus that causes it, HPV, turns into cancer. With catching it early, there is a 93 percent survival rate.
Even more disturbing is that Black women are twice as likely to die from it than whites, according to the report – “at 5.2 per 100,000 women, compared with 2.7 for white women.” It kills more than 100 Alabama women each year, the report states, a rate that surpasses any other state in the nation.
The report condemns the high rates, saying that it could be much lower given that it can be cured.
More problematic is that Alabama refuses to expand Medicaid, and has strict eligibility levels making the issue more pressing in what the report refers to as “Alabama’s patchwork public health system.” Therefore, Medicaid remains out of reach for even Alabama’s poorest population, unless they are disabled or pregnant, according to the report.
Access to Medicaid is going to get even more difficult if the government has its way.
Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey has proposed adding a new work requirement too that would kick an additional 8,700 Alabama residents off the Medicaid rolls, the report states.
Alabama also has the highest cancer death rate in the nation, partly because of access to care to get properly diagnosed and treated. It also doesn’t help that the state has a shortage of OBGYN doctors too.
You’re at higher risk of developing cervical cancer if:
You have chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted disease.
You are overweight.
You take oral contraceptives (birth control pills).
You have had three or more full-term pregnancies or first pregnancy before 17.
Your mother or sister had cervical cancer.
Your mother took a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) while she was pregnant with you.
You are a smoker.