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World Lupus Day event highlights the need to raise awareness

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INDIANAPOLIS—Estimates suggest that 36,000 Hoosiers are living with Lupus and that one in four of these individuals are disabled. Recently, Indiana leaders and decision makers gathered to learn more about this debilitating disease and how we can reduce incidence of Lupus in Indiana at the event, “Make Lupus Matter: An Educational Forum.”

The event, aptly held on World Lupus Day, was hosted by the Indiana State Department of Health Office of Women’s Health, Indiana Minority Health Coalition and the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) Indiana Chapter.

“’The Make Lupus Matter’ event was successful in elevating the discussion about the impact Lupus has on Hoosiers, and what we, as a state, can do about it,” said Morgan McGill, Director of the Office of Women’s Health at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Low awareness of this disease among healthcare providers and the public often leads to late or misdiagnosis, which may result in more suffering for the patient and an increase in medical costs. We are thankful to everyone who attended and to all of our speakers, especially Secretary of State, Connie Lawson, and City-County Council President, Maggie Lewis.”

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can inflame and damage any part of the body. Inflammation, which in Latin means “set on fire,” is characterized by pain, heat, swelling and loss of function, either on the inside or on the outside of the body (or both). Uncontrolled, it can permanently damage vital organs. Lupus can cause disfiguring rashes and scarring, multiple miscarriages, kidney, heart and lung failure, impaired neurological function, strokes, heart attacks and death.

Approximately 1.5 million Americans have Lupus and 16,000 Americans develop lupus annually. Every year, Lupus costs the nation $31.4 billion, an estimated $628 million in Indiana alone.

Nearly 70 guests and community leaders gathered at the Governor’s residence to discuss the health, social and economic impact of lupus on Hoosiers.

“Despite its enormous public health implications, Lupus remains a dangerously under-recognized and under-appreciated health issue,” said Jan Ferris, Chief Executive Officer of the LFA, Indiana Chapter. “We need everyone’s support to fight Lupus and find a cure. The ‘Make Lupus Matter’ event on May 10 served as a centerpiece of the lupus community’s annual grassroots effort to raise awareness of this unpredictable and sometimes fatal disease.”

Lupus education and awareness leads to earlier diagnosis, improves clinical outcomes, decreases disability, and decreases medical and societal costs. The Office of Women’s Health, Indiana Minority Health Coalition and the Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter, are forming a lupus task force to collect state and county data about the disease.

For more information about Lupus, visit the Lupus Foundation of America, Indiana Chapter website at www.lupusindiana.org.

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