No Longer the “White Plague”
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world
upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it
back and get it right-side up again. And now that they are asking to do it, the
men better let them!
-Sojourner Truth, Ain't I a Woman?
Sojourner Truth, an African American former slave and outspoken advocate of women's and civil rights, gave her famous Ain't I a Woman? speech at the 1851 Women's Convention. Her words of empowerment have inspired black women and poor people the world over to this day. As an abolitionist and a feminist, Truth defied the notion that slaves were male and women white, expounding a fact that still bears repeating: among blacks, there are women; among women, there are blacks.
Never more cogent today are her words as they relate to the incarcerated population, as among inmates there are women, and among women, there are those of color who are shackled worldwide by an ancient killer once known as the white plague. This disease, tuberculosis, is preventable and 90 percent curable when treated with the appropriate antibiotics.
This chapter will review the global and national impact of tuberculosis on the health of women. The pathophysiological, epidemiological, transmission, and treatment challenges associated with tuberculosis for incarcerated women will also be discussed. The potential impact of gender disparity and cultural bias on women of color behind bars will also be a component of this discussion.