Why do men avoid getting check-ups? Do they fear what a doctor might say? Is it their own sense of masculinity and the notion that men do not need help? Or, is it that they simply do not trust doctors? The answer is all of the above. Research shows that men in general site these three reasons among the top reasons for not going to the doctor, however, the issue of trust is especially serious for African-American men.
History has played a role in black men’s distrust of the medical community in this country. Accounts like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study where hundreds of black men were given Syphilis and denied treatment as the medical community used them for medical research, is among them. Unfortunately, that distrust is among the reason healthcare professionals believe there are higher rates of deaths for African-Americans. Studies indicate that blacks often develop chronic diseases earlier and die earlier than whites.
Systematic oppression and abuse may make it seem impossible to gain access to healthcare or find a healthcare provider you can trust, however, taking control of one’s health requires being informed about your body and providing it with the necessary care. It is an important step towards fighting against oppression. So, take control of your health. Find and create a relationship with a healthcare professional you can trust. Understand that getting a check-up has nothing to do with masculinity. Take steps towards reducing stress through exercise, self-care and self-love. Control your blood pressure and manage your cholesterol. Practice healthy habits, and use your strength to empower yourself and other in your community to stand up for the oppressed.