By Genoa Barrow | Senior Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of the USPS

The cost of mailing a letter has doubled in the last two decades. It was 37 cents in 2004 and that same year United States Postal Service issued a stamp aimed at garnering attention for sickle cell. 

The stamp was released in Atlanta on September 29, 2004 as part of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America’s (SCDAA) 32nd Annual National Convention that was held there. It became available nationwide the next day.  Featuring the artwork of New York-based artist James Gurney, the Sickle Cell Disease Awareness stamp depicts a Black mother lovingly kissing her child underneath the words “Test Early for Sickle Cell.” It was a public awareness stamp and unlike a semipostal stamp that is mandated by Congress, it didn’t raise money for the cause. 

According to the USPS, public awareness stamps are available for a maximum of three years or until supplies run out. The postal service urged organizations across the country to use the sickle cell stamp’s release as an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and to plan local events to showcase this stamp and to educate the public on the issues surrounding sickle cell disease and the lives it affects daily. 

In 2008, the USPS also released a 41 cent stamp depicting chemist and pioneering sickle cell researcher Linus Pauling. Two years prior, Haitian-born artist Hertz Nazaire, who suffers from the disease, lent art from his sickle cell pain paintings series to a stamp sold through Zazzle.

This article is part of a series that highlights sickle cell’s impact on the African American community and how medical professionals are working to remove barriers to care and ensure that patients get the treatment they deserve.