The National Lupus Awareness Campaign, the first-ever program of its kind, was launched recently in a cooperative effort between the US Department of Health & Human Services' Office on Women's Health and the Advertising Council. The "Could I have lupus?" campaign is designed to improve early diagnosis and treatment in persons at increased risk for lupus by raising recognition of the disease as a significant national public health problem and creating a sense of urgency about it.
The lupus campaign is targeted mostly toward young minority women, because they are most affected by the disease. The goal is to provide them and their family members with information to help them take action if they have symptoms. Elements of the campaign include television and radio public service ads, a Web site, bulletin boards, and other media tools.
The campaign's answers to questions frequently asked by women who are experiencing lupus symptoms include the following:
•Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder; it is not infectious or cancerous.
•Persons may be genetically predisposed to lupus, but few persons with the disease have a close relative who already has it.
•Environmental factors play a critical role in triggering the disease. They include infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, extreme stress, and some drugs.
•Women are 10 to 15 times more likely to have lupus than men. The condition is more prevalent in African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians than in other persons; it often occurs at a younger age in African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos.
•Even if medication is taken for lupus, the symptoms may worsen at times, or flare. Recognizing that a flare is coming (experiencing fatigue, pain, rash, fever, stomach discomfort, headache, or dizziness) may help in coping with it.
•Lupus is a serious health problem, with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. Therefore, once the early warning signs are identified, asking a physician for a medical evaluation is recommended.
To learn more about the National Lupus Awareness Campaign, visit http://www.couldIhavelupus.gov
or http://www.womenshealth.gov/lupus/. To obtain campaign materials, visit the Ad Council Lupus Awareness page at http://www.adcouncil.org/.