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Public Lacks Awareness of Serious Disease With Life-Threatening Complications

May is National Lupus Awareness Month

WASHINGTON, May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Most women likely can describe warning signs and health risks associated with breast cancer and heart disease, but according to a recent online survey relatively few are aware of another potentially fatal disease that disproportionately strikes young women between the ages of 15 and 44. The disease is lupus.

Although more than 1.5 million Americans have lupus, the public mostly is unaware of the potentially disabling and life-altering health effects of lupus. According to a national online survey conducted for the Ad Council, eighty percent of young women in the United States say they have little or no knowledge of lupus, yet eight in ten new cases of lupus will develop among women of childbearing age.

Lupus develops when the immune system goes out of balance, causing it to become destructive to any major organ or tissue in the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, and joints. Its health effects include heart attacks, stokes, seizures, and organ failure.

May is National Lupus Awareness Month. Now in its thirty-second year, Lupus Awareness Month is observed to disseminate medically sound information about lupus, increase public understanding of the physical, emotional, and economic impact of the disease, and provide support, services, and hope to all people affected by lupus. As part of Lupus Awareness Month, the Lupus Foundation of America and its chapters, and nearly 100 lupus organizations from around the globe, will observe May 10 as World Lupus Day, to highlight lupus as a worldwide health issue that affects people of all races and ethnicities.

Here in the United States, lupus is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans than among Caucasians. While lupus strikes mostly young females, males and females of all ages can develop the disease.

What is most troubling about the lack of awareness of lupus is that early diagnosis and proper medical care often can help to prevent or reduce serious health complications, such as heart attacks, strokes, seizures, miscarriages, or kidney failure. That is why public recognition of lupus signs and symptoms is so important to the public -- awareness of lupus helps save lives.

Recently, the Ad Council launched its first-ever national public awareness campaign on lupus. The campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health (OWH).

"The new Ad Council campaign addresses the critical need to raise awareness among the public about lupus, and ultimately increase early diagnosis to prevent the life-threatening consequences of lupus," said Sandra C. Raymond, LFA President and CEO. "We are pleased to be the founding partner with OWH and the Ad Council for this significant campaign."

The goal of the new campaign is to improve early diagnosis and treatment of lupus. The disease can be difficult to recognize for several reasons:

  • young people may assume that their health problems are temporary,
  • symptoms often come and go and change over time, and
  • initial symptoms of lupus often are dismissed as nothing serious.

More than half of the people with lupus suffer from symptoms for four or more years before they are diagnosed.

Early warning signs of lupus can include sudden and persistent joint and muscle pain, overwhelming fatigue, skin rashes on the face, scalp, and arms, hair loss, and persistent fevers. The new Ad Council campaign message, "Could I have lupus?" urges individuals who may be experiencing symptoms to ask their doctor about lupus. The LFA website,, has a symptoms checklist that individuals can complete and take to their doctor to help determine their risk for having the disease.

The LFA also has launched a new education series of booklets and fact sheets in both English and Spanish, and enhanced its network of health educators to assist people who are seeking information and referrals to local services. Working with renowned lupus experts, the LFA has compiled the latest information to answer questions about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. The Foundation's nationwide network of chapters, affiliates, and support groups also will be conducting outreach activities to raise awareness of lupus within local communities.

Additional information about lupus is available through the LFA website at To obtain free information on lupus symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options by mail, call the LFA toll-free at 1-888-38LUPUS (888-385-8787) or contact the nearest LFA office. A list of offices appears on the LFA website.

About the LFA

The Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. is the foremost national nonprofit voluntary health organization dedicated to finding the causes of and cure for lupus, and providing support, services, and hope to all people affected by lupus.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

Sandra Raymond

SOURCE Lupus Foundation of America
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