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Statements by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Other Department Leaders on National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and other HHS leaders from across the Department released the following statements to celebrate September as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month:

“Sickle cell disease affects more than 100,000 Americans, many of whom face difficulty in equitable access to health care. Recent promising developments in biomedical research give us hope for someday putting an end to this disease,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “At HHS, we’ll continue to raise awareness and promote advances to improve the lives of people living with sickle cell disease.”

“As we reaffirm our commitment to improving the lives of those living with sickle cell disease, we must address existing health disparities and improve access to health care,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, ADM Rachel Levine. “At HHS, we are committed to working across all sectors and partners to enhance the quality of life for people living with sickle cell disease.”

“Decades of research investment by the National Institutes of Health has helped lead to increasingly more effective treatments for the more than 100,000 Americans living with sickle cell disease,” said Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., who is performing the duties of the NIH director. “From the discovery in 1995 that hydroxyurea reduces painful episodes by 50%, to the use of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to cure the disease for people with a bone marrow match, to emerging knowledge of how to apply genetic therapies to expand cures to more people, NIH research is helping people living with sickle cell disease live much fuller.”

Every September, people living with sickle cell disease, their caregivers, advocates, healthcare providers, and others come together to bring awareness to the disease and dispel the myths and stigmas surrounding it. The month also brings attention to the ongoing need for research, better care practices, new treatments, and an eventual cure.

Also, today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a Vital Signs report on sickle cell disease.

Facts about sickle cell disease:

  • Most common inherited blood disorder in U.S.
  • Affects approximately 100,000 Americans.
  • 1 out of every 365 Black or African American babies are born with sickle cell disease.
  • 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American babies are born with sickle cell disease.
  • About 1 in 13 Black or African American babies are born with sickle cell trait.
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