OBJECTIVES: Emerging literature shows that racialised police brutality, a form of structural racism, significantly affects health and well-being of racial/ethnic minorities in the USA. While public health research suggests that structural racism is a distal determinant of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Black people, no studies have empirically linked police violence to STIs. To address this gap, our study measures associations between police killings and rates of STIs among Black residents of US metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).
METHODS: This cross-sectional ecological analysis assessed associations between the number of Black people killed by police in 2015 and rates of primary and secondary syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia per 100 000 Black residents of all ages in 2016 in 75 large MSAs. Multivariable models controlled for MSA-level demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, police expenditures, violent crime, arrest and incarceration rates, insurance rates and healthcare funding.
RESULTS: In 2015, the median number of Black people killed by police per MSA was 1.0. In multivariable models, police killings were positively and significantly associated with syphilis and gonorrhoea rates among Black residents. Each additional police killing in 2015 was associated with syphilis rates that were 7.5% higher and gonorrhoea rates that were 4.0% higher in 2016.
CONCLUSIONS: Police killings of Black people may increase MSA-level risk of STI infections among Black residents. If future longitudinal analyses support these findings, efforts to reduce STIs among Black people should include reducing police brutality and addressing mechanisms linking this violence to STIs.
Police killings of Black people and rates of sexually transmitted infections: A cross-sectional analysis of 75 large US metropolitan areas, 2016
Sexually Transmitted Infections, 96 (6), 429-431. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2019-054026. PMCID: PMC7377537.