Senate Resolution Supports March as National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month
Senate resolution S.RES.372, introduced by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, was passed on March 4, 2010 to designate March as National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month. The initiative will support the efforts of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) to increase awareness and research funding for autoimmune diseases.
AARDA President and Executive Director said, “This is a day of celebration for autoimmune disease patients around the country…fewer than 13% of Americans can name, unaided, an autoimmune disease. This is staggering when one considers that there are 100+ known autoimmune diseases, all of which are chronic, many life-threatening, and that as a category, autoimmune diseases are one of the top 10 killers of women under the age of 65.”
The organization held the first “Autoimmune Diseases Summit” in Washington DC on March 3, with keynote speaker Melissa Joan Hart and AARDA National Spokesperson Kellie Martin, actress from the television series E.R. Ms. Martin lost her only sister to the autoimmune disease lupus. The group also issued a new report called “A Briefing Report on Autoimmune Disease and AARDA: Past, Present, and Future”, examining the current state of autoimmune diseases and its economic and social impact.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and that the prevalence is rising. There are approximately 149 known autoimmune diseases or autoimmune related disorders, with the top seven being Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and scleroderma.