March Is National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month

Nick Cannon recently diagnosed with lupus nephritis

Nick Cannon recently diagnosed with autoimmune disease, lupus nephritis

March is National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month, and the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is dedicated to the eradication of autoimmune diseases and the alleviation of suffering and the socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity through fostering and facilitating collaboration in the areas of education, public awareness, research, and patient services in an effective, ethical and efficient manner.

Recently many celebrities have been diagnosed, bringing autoimmune disease awareness into the forefront: Nick Cannon, Venus Williams, Kim Kardashian, Toni Braxton, and Lady Gaga among others.

AARDA is the only national nonprofit health agency dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity, the major cause of serious chronic diseases. Some mind-boggling facts:

1. 50 Million Americans have an autoimmune disease, comprising a major U.S. health crisis.
2. There are 100+ autoimmune diseases including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), vasculitis, and Addison’s disease.
3. Autoimmune diseases “cluster” in families; for example, if your grandmother had lupus, you could be at greater risk for developing an autoimmune disease.
4. Fewer than 13 percent of Americans can name an autoimmune disease.
5. Autoimmune diseases target women 75 percent more often than men; and combined, autoimmune diseases are one of the top ten killers of women under the age of 65.
6. Two of the most common autoimmune diseases are Hashimoto’s disease, which causes hypothyroidism, and is the main cause of an underactive thyroid in the U.S., and Graves’ disease, which typically causes hyperthyroidism.

AARDA’s President and Executive Director Virginia T. Ladd said, “Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease have all been shown to be on the rise, but answers as to why these increases are occurring are yet unknown. However, it is imperative that the public be more aware of their own risk factors for developing autoimmune diseases so that, as symptoms occur, they can seek a diagnosis and begin a treatment regimen. Early diagnosis and onset of treatment can make a significant difference in someone’s chances of becoming disabled or suffering organ damage.”

Several events are being sponsored by AARDA, including a Congressional Briefing on March 28, and AARDA’s Autoimmune Walk Campaign, led by campaign ambassador Kellie Martin (who starred in ER), and the AARDA inaugural awareness and fundraising walk on May 19 in Washington DC. More information about the National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month activities are available at AARDA’s Web Site at

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List of: Autoimmune Diseases

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