Life with sickle cell disease is agonizing, says 46-year-old India McMillan. “You have to mentally prepare yourself for the pain every day.”
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited, incurable blood disorder — and the most common genetic blood disorder in the U.S. It causes red blood cells to become sickle-shaped instead of round, so they can get stuck and clog circulation, resulting in tremendous pain. It can cause life-threatening complications like strokes and aneurysms.
SCD occurs when a person inherits two sickle cell genes, one from each parent. Those suffering with SCD are primarily Black and brown; about 1 in 365 Black babies are born with the disease.
SCD is just one of the conditions that disproportionately impacts underserved minority communities. Black populations are two to three times more likely to die from heart disease and account for 41% of those with HIV, explains Joel Helle, Vice President Physician Services for CVS Health.