September is Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month

August 2021 Impact Brief

September is Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM), an initiative created by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) to raise awareness about the more than 100 rheumatic diseases, including arthritis and lupus.

NACDD continues to partner with ACR through two new cooperative agreements. In September 2020, ACR partnered with NACDD to continue to expand the Lupus School Health Training Project, to train school health personnel on the signs and symptoms of pediatric lupus and on how to provide care to students in grades 9-12. Beginning in September 2021, ACR is partnering with NACDD to develop and implement an evidence-informed healthcare provider approach to conduct function, pain, and physical activity assessments, patient counseling on the benefits of physical activity, and referrals to arthritis-appropriate physical activity and self-management programs. Studies show that physical activity can reduce pain and improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis. Physical activity is also important for the management of other chronic conditions that are common among adults with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

From 2013–2015, an estimated 54.4 million US adults (22.7%) annually had ever been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia. The percentage of adults with arthritis varies by state, ranging from 17.2% in Hawaii to 33.6% in West Virginia in 2015. By 2040, an estimated 78 million (26%) US adults aged 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

Lupus is most common in women between the ages of 18-45, but it can affect men also. It is difficult to know how many people in the United States have lupus, because the symptoms are different for every person. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans have lupus. Other estimates range from 161,000 to 322,000 Americans with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Recent studies indicate that lupus incidence rates are almost three times higher in black women than white women and affect 1 in 537 young African American women. Minority

women tend to develop lupus at a younger age, experience more serious complications and have higher mortality rates—up to three times the mortality rate of white women. [i]

NACDD partners in the School Health Training Program include the Lupus Foundation of America/Georgia Chapter, the Big Bend Rural Health Network, the University of Alabama and the Lupus Foundation of America/Tri-State Chapter. The Training Program includes an ACR approved curriculum, accompanied by a Lupus Care Plan and a Child to Adult Lupus Transition Plan. 

For more information about lupus and the School Healthcare Training Project visit chronicdisease.org/lupus

The American College of Rheumatology/The Lupus Initiative: thelupusinitiative.org

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/lupus

The Lupus Foundation of America:  lupus.org

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