September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month and we’re focusing on the stigma that teens face who have this disease. There are very few medical providers who understand Sickle Cell Anemia, a blood disorder that causes your red blood cells to create a crescent or sickle shape and can wreak havoc on a person’s body their entire lifetime. It can cause circulatory blockages and damage the spleen as well as other organs.
This disease is seen primarily in the Black community. It is a recessive gene that evolved in areas that are plagued with Malaria. People with Sickle Cell are resistant to Malaria because mosquitos do not bite them. It is a hereditary disease that is recessive and the gene must be received from both parents to inherit Sickle Cell Anemia.
Teens have an especially hard time with the stigma that comes with having Sickle Cell. At a young age and along with their parents, they often act as their own advocates when seeking medical care for this disorder. Their pain is often not taken seriously or they are looked upon as drug seekers.
Like most teens, you dream of a career and your future as an adult but Sickle Cell can rip some dreams away, such as entering the military and yet inspire careers like those in the medical fields. Listen to what these teens have to say about managing Sickle Cell Anemia in a video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For more information about Sickle Cell Anemia, go to the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/index.html.