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New Study Suggests Black Lupus Patients Are Less Likely to Be Prescribed Contraception

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What happened: As per a recent report published in Arthritis Care & Research journal, despite higher prevalence of lupus among Black women, it is less likely that they, along with Asian women, are prescribed birth control.

  • The study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, studied claims of Medicaid-insured women with lupus from 2000 to 2010
  • Researchers wanted to look for racial disparities in contraception prescriptions for lupus treatment
  • Findings indicate that in general, only 9% of women with Lupus had a contraception visit, while 10% received any contraception and only 2% received highly effective contraception.

Despite having more visits for contraception, compared to white women, Black women had lower odds of receiving contraception, and specifically, highly effective contraception methods. Asian women had fewer visits and lower odds of receiving contraception.

The Frontlines: Candace H. Feldman, MD, MPH, ScD, one of the study’s authors, pointed out that Black women have high rates of pregnancy complications and a higher risk for lupus. Contraception prescriptions are not just generally safe for lupus patients, they can prevent reproductive-related consequences.

  • Previous research has indicated that young black women are at the highest risk for lupus, and more likely to experience serious complications
  • Compared with white women with Lupus, Black women in the most recent study demonstrated a 1.4 times higher rate of having a contraceptive visit, but 0.89 times lower odds of receiving any contraception, and 0.71 times lower odds of highly effective contraceptives
  • Further, compared to white patients, Asian women had significantly lower odds of both a contraceptive visit and receiving any contraception

A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Krista Petrosino, shared her reflections on the difficultly of finding effective medications for lupus. “Autoimmune diseases are by nature challenging to treat, and there are few drug options specific to lupus. The side effects of the drugs that we do use to control our symptoms and disease activity (combinations of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, anti-inflammatories, steroids, and chemotherapy drugs) are often just as frustrating or debilitating as the disease activity itself.” You can submit your first person story, too.

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Other things to know: To learn more about living with lupus, particularly from the perspective of those who are diagnosed with the condition, here are some resources to explore:

How to take action: Learn more about lupus and birth control options here or join The Mighty’s lupus community online to extend social support and share insights with caregivers or individuals with lupus.

Header image via sam74100/Getty Images

Originally published: July 10, 2020
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