Back in June of this year the Lupus Foundation of America and the American College of Rheumatology launched an awareness campaign (Be Fierce. Take Control) aimed at African American and Latino women, who are both at an increased risk of developing lupus.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of lupus to facilitate early diagnosis. An early diagnosis is important as it ensures that lupus sufferers can avoid some of the long-term effects of the condition. Lupus can take many years to diagnose as the symptoms are very vague and similar to a number of other conditions, this makes diagnosis very difficult.
The campaign has used social media and digital advertising to reach young black women. They have also created a website with useful resources such as:
- A ‘Could it Be Lupus?’ questionnaire which allows young women to determine whether their symptoms could be those of lupus.
- A lupus symptoms tracker to help women monitor their symptoms and to use at their next doctor’s appointment to explain their symptoms
- A guide to help those with symptoms prepare for their first doctor’s appointment
Although these resources were developed for African American women, they can be used by black women throughout the world who think they may have the symptoms of lupus.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic (it lasts a long time) disease where the body’s immune system doesn’t function properly and begins to attack healthy cells, tissues and organs.
There are four types of lupus:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – affects a range of different organs in the body
- Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) – affects the skin causing rashes and a change in the colour of the skin.
- Drug- induced lupus is caused by certain types of medication (for example hydralazine and procainamide which are used to treat heart conditions).
- Neonatal lupus is a very rare type that affects new born babies
Black Women and Lupus
Black women are three to four times more likely to develop lupus than their white counterparts and results from the Lupus in Minorities study has shown that black women develop this condition at a younger age, experience more severe symptoms and overall develop more complications.
Researchers are trying to understand why it is more common in black women and why it is more severe. It is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental differences.
For more information about the ‘Be Fierce. Take Control’ campaign, visit their website here and you can view the campaign video, Fierce Women Tackle Health, below