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Massachusetts General Law recognizes May as Lupus Awareness Month.  Although Lupus affects approximately 1.5 million Americans, challenges remain regarding awareness and accurate knowledge about the disease.  Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes a person’s own immune system to attack their tissues, which damages the tissues and produces widespread inflammation.

Lupus disproportionately affects younger women and in particular, women of color. Over 90% of individuals with lupus are women, most of which are between the ages of 15 to 44.  Women of color are two to three times more at risk for lupus than Caucasian women.

There are four different types of Lupus, with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) accounting for over 70% of all cases. Individuals with SLE may experience symptoms including, but not limited to, fatigue, headaches, chest pain, fever, anemia, swelling in joints, and skin rashes. Symptoms are often characterized by flares and remissions and are likely to affect the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels.

For every one male affected, four to twelve females are affected by SLE. Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians/Alaska Natives are more likely to be affected than Caucasians. Individuals with a family history of SLE may be at greater risk of developing SLE[i].

Currently, there is no cure for lupus, but with treatments most individuals are able to live active and healthy lives. People with Lupus may have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability rights laws.

For more information, visit the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page on Lupus.

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[i] The National Resource Center on Lupus

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