Black women are speaking up about the effects of long term COVID-19 infections and how Black men and women are treated by doctors.
Chimére Smith, a 39-year-old Baltimore woman who addressed Congress in April spoke on her experience with long term COVID-19, which forced her to leave her job and spend her savings on finding healthcare as she was sick for more than 400 days after contracting COVID-19.
“I am now a poor, Black disabled woman living with long COVID,” Smith said according to US News.
Smith, a middle school teacher in Maryland, added she felt ignored and disrespected by doctors who didn’t believe she was sick and drove hours to find a doctor who would accept her as a patient and listen to her concerns.
Long term COVID-19 infections are ones where those infected by COVID-19 don’t fully recover weeks or months after being infected. Long-term COVID-19 infections can infect anyone who has had the illness even if they have mild or no symptoms while infected.
Smith’s symptoms included impaired vision, diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues and a feeling of paralysis in her face. The teacher said she was treated so poorly by doctors that she hasn’t returned to a hospital since last year.
Ashanti Daniel did not contract long-term COVID, but in 2016 she was diagnosed with an unrelated respiratory infection. She ended up in the hospital for a week, but she recovered, or she thought so.
Several weeks after her infection, Daniel noticed the fatigue she felt after her night shifts were different from anything else she experienced. It took another nine months before she was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a respiratory illness similar to long-term COVID-19.
The similarities pushed Daniel to get involved in COVID-19 advocacy, especially to help other Black people who are struggling with long-term COVID and ME/CFS, which primarily affects White women, which prevents some Black people from getting diagnosed.
Time Magazine also reported on the struggle Black men and women have faced when trying to get diagnosed with long-term COVID-19. STAT News also reported in May that researchers believed long-term COVID disproportionately affected Black people.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when compared to White people, Black people are more likely to catch COVID are 2.9 times likely to be hospitalized and two times likely to die.