Sickle Cell Disease Among African Americans


Anp 204 - sickle ANp 204 - sickle 2

Sickle cell disease is a hereditary blood disorder in which red blood cells are crescent shaped or “sickled”opposed to the normal round shape causing the red blood cells to clog small tubes carrying oxygen throughout our body. Sickle cell anemia occurs more in malaria ridden areas such as South Africa, Central America, Caribbean Islands, India, and Saudi Arabia. These likely areas are why African Americans are more prone to have sickle cell disease. However, it is worth mentioning that there is a significant difference in the occurrence of sickle cell in Africans versus African Americans. The map above shows a 3.75 percentage difference between the two countries. The difference is not much, but African Americans genetically get this trait from their African ancestors which gives more evidence that race and genetics plays a role in individuals’ health.

I strongly believe that race, genetics, and health are always directly related to each other. All three categories have an influence on our health. In the article, “the role of race and genetics in health disparities research” described how various races have a history of certain diseases being present, making it easier down the line to test and provide the proper treatment for individuals from that group. It is clearly stated that the “proponents of a biological definition of race further argue that there may be important interactions between race and genetic characteristics in the susceptibility to disease, making such racial classification useful even when a genetic determinant of a complex disease is present in all racial groups.” Even though all racial groups can possibly be infected by a disease, these distinctions being related can aid in future studies. Each country has a large variety of parasites,infections, and diseases that are prevalent in those areas, leading to some ethnic groups to be effected more than others. Understanding the relationship between race, genetics, and health is important to help researchers pinpoint what populations are at high risk for particular diseases, making it easier to take the proper medical action for the groups that can respond to the care.


“The role of race and Genetics In Health Disparities Research”, last modified on December 2005. Accessed July 10, 2014.

RACE. “Health Connections: Do our genes determine our health?”, accessed July 10,2014,

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. heilmann says:

    After reading your post, I thought that your take on the relationship occurring between race, genetics, and health was very interesting. Although you did not claim that race causes the various types of disease and health related problems studies may discuss, you did indicate you think there is a very important connection between the two, which I did not really discuss in my post. Although one does not cause the other, it does not mean that the link between these two things (or three as you included genetics in your discussion) is not worth studying. Addressing populations based on what they are at risk of because of their race or their geographic location can be very important when it comes to treatment or cures. I also found it note worthy that you mentioned looking at populations and groups of people based on their country and location rather than just their race alone. I agree that that approach is very important and useful. I think that using racial categories in clinical studies is actually quite effective and your post leads me to believe you think that as well. It definitely can offer a better method of discussing diseases that affect racial groups disproportionately.

  2. Mohkam Singh says:

    Sickle Cell disease is a classic example of how race, genetics, and health are related. I agree with your analysis that different racial groups do have differing susceptibilities to diseases. As an individual of South Asian decent, I am more susceptible to type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. This is an accurate assumption because diabetes and heart disease are health issues that my own family has to deal with. So, I believe this is a very important aspect of health we need to study. While race should not be a determinant for anything else, I do believe the connection between race and genetics is obvious and something that must be studied. Another point you made that I did not really consider was the connection between Africans and African Americans. The genetic pool in Africa is very diverse, but many of the same diseases popup around the continent. Contrasted to individuals in America, people in Africa are exposed to extremely different climates and ailments. Through your analysis of sickle cell among Africans and African Americans, we do get a sense that race and genetics play a vital role in health, but we also know that an individuals geographical location also can be a major factor.

  3. christopher reed says:

    Sickle Cell gives us a really good perspective on how race, genetics, and health can all play off one another. As we learned in the video, our genetics are somewhat determined by natural selection. The best combinations of genes for a certain environment are the ones that survive and can be passed on. Sickle Cell is an important condition for people in certain areas because it can protect the blood from Malaria. Thus, we find it more prevalent in areas where malaria is a problem. What I found most interesting about the graphs was how few African Americans had the disease relative to West Africans. Even though they might have been descendants of the same locations or groups of people, in America you don’t have to be of one hundred percent African ancestry to be considered African American. I think this may be the reason that such a bigger percentage of Africans have this disease. That is, in a way, a globalized picture of natural selection that is quite interesting.
    In this case, race is very important in clinical study. However, it is important to note that race can be overstated, especially in America where so few people are actually of “pure blood”.

  4. Moriah Hill says:

    Yes, I agree that knowing the relationship between race, health and genetics have a major role in clinical studies. It can be helpful in looking for cures for both foreign and domestic diseases. As an African American descent, I am more prone to having sickle cell anemia and a variety of other health issues as opposed to other races. Race and genetics are a big part in modern day medicine, like Kayla said, it can pin point ways to discover better care for people.
    Racial categories play a part in diseases and illnesses because epidemics current in a certain race may be that way because of the geographic location. The origin of the race may not have had the best living and environmental situations to get the proper care needed for diseases and illnesses. Which causes the disease or illness to just continue to be passed down from generation to generation, making it common for that specific race. Race is not the only factor because genetics is a large part. The two go hand in hand, family shares the same genetics but they are usually of the same race in most cases. That of which is something that was not mentioned in this post, as well.

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