Quantcast

Lupus Foundation of America sheds light on mysterious disease

OW Staff | 1/16/2013, 5 p.m.

Lupus is an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease that ravages different parts of the body. It is difficult to diagnose, hard to live with, and a challenge to treat. According to a recent survey by the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Black women, in particular, are three times more likely to develop the disease than White women.

Despite the prevalence of lupus, key characteristics of the disease remain largely unknown. A recent survey shows that nearly three-fourths of Americans between 18 and 34--the age group at the highest risk for lupus--have never heard of lupus or know little or nothing about the disease beyond the name.

African Americans and Hispanics are at a particularly high risk for lupus, but awareness among these groups is critically low.

The Lupus Foundation of America's launched the Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery national tour, which includes a 45-foot purple bus with eight interactive exhibits, to talk with locals about lupus, a disease that ravages different parts of the body and has no known cause or cure. The bus allows visitors to experience what it is like to face lupus, substantiating the urgent need to end the disease's devastating impact.

Visitors can support those affected by lupus by signing a petition asking Congress to fund lupus research and education services.

The bus made several stops in Los Angeles this week and culminated with visit to the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles, where actress Tichina Arnold, currently starring in TV Land's "Happily Divorced," spoke to audiences about her experience coping with and advocating for lupus advances on behalf of her sister, Zenay Arnold.

The campaign was inspired by research that showed people with lupus do not want the disease kept off the radar. It highlights the troubling nature of lupus, a disease that inexplicably targets young women, is difficult to diagnose, strikes without warning, can be mild or fatal, has a range of symptoms that are hidden from view, and tragically, has no known cause or cure. Its health effects can range from a skin rash to a heart attack. Lupus is debilitating and destructive and can be fatal, yet research on lupus has not kept pace with research for other diseases of similar scope and devastation.

Recently, stars like singer Toni Braxton, Seal, and Nick Cannon have come forward to discuss their struggles with this autoimmune disease and are advocates for awareness.