BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - When Dr. Justin Aldred was completing his residency in Jackson, Mississippi, he noticed a trend.
“The amount of cervical cancer we saw in the African-American population far exceeded that of the Caucasian population. Even in Alabama, where Aldred now practices, experts say black women in the state are dying of the disease at more than twice the national average.
One reason may be due to a lack of knowledge about how the disease is spread, which is through the human papilloma virus.
Many women may not know a screening is out there that can help detect it if it's caught early.
“Without proper screening, things will go undetected for a long time and as I mentioned, it’s a slow progressing disease,” Aldred says.
Another hindrance is access to medical care--especially in more rural parts of the state. “In south Alabama, the black belt region, I think there’s much more need for physician’s in those areas--specifically women’s health physicians to help,” Aldred comments.
The importance of that screening is something Aldred says he stresses to all his patients, regardless of color.
He also highly recommends parents of girls between the ages of 11 and 12 the HPV vaccine which can help prevent getting the virus all together.
“Those are the target age ranges because we want to catch these patients prior to their sexual activity.”