186772 An Examination of the Reproductive Health Issues of African American Women with Developmental Disabilities

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kai Stewart, PhD, MPH , Department of Clinical and Social Services, Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, GA
An Examination of the Reproductive Health Issues of African American Women with Developmental Disabilities

Over 49 million Americans beyond the age of 5 years have a disabling condition that affects employment, education, income and the ability to participate fully in society (Waldrop & Stern, 2003). Disabilities can be physical, visual, auditory, cognitive and mental. For many being healthy means having the tools and knowledge to assist in promoting wellness, reducing risk factors that increase illness and increasing protective factors that can prevent it (Harrison, 2006). Persons with developmental disabilities experience a number of barriers to being healthy such as accessing health information and healthcare services.

Developmental disabilities (DD) as defined by the CDC are a “diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments occurring anytime during development up to 22 years of age and usually last throughout a person's lifetime”.

Women with DD face their own unique challenges to accessing healthcare, specifically reproductive healthcare. These challenges include but are not limited to (1) lack of sex education, (2) restrictive choices regarding reproductive services, (3) high risk of sexual abuse and (4) existing perceptions of women with DD as either asexual or overtly sexual.

African American women with DD experience the impact of race, gender and disability bias in conjunction with the inequalities found in health services. The purpose of this presentation is to increase dialogue about the need for additional research addressing the reproductive health issues and concerns of African American women with DD.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this session attendees will be able to: Define characteristics associated with developmental disabilities Identify barriers to adequate reproductive health services for African American women with developmental disabilities Discuss possible strategies to addressing the reproductive health challenges of African American women with developmental disabilities

Keywords: African American, Disability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a PhD in Health Education and Health Promotion and a Masters degree in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. I have over 7 years of experience working in health and social service agencies focused on disabilities and chronic conditions. Currently, I am the Director of Clinical and Social Services for the Atlanta Alliance on Developmental Disabilities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.