Understanding Lupus: It doesn’t seem fair, but lupus definitely discriminates. Although our federal laws forbid discrimination based on gender, there are no laws of auto-immunity that follow those edicts. Unfortunately, 90 percent of the people who develop lupus are women.
Lupus further discriminates because it is two to three times more prevalent among women of color — African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders — than among Caucasian women. However, despite its bias toward women, and especially women of color, when men develop lupus, their disease can be more severe and organ threatening than lupus in female lupus patients.
If one member of a family has been diagnosed with Lupus, other members of their immediate and extended family should be alert to possible symptoms of lupus About 5 percent of the children born to individuals with lupus will develop the illness. 20 percent of people with lupus will have a parent or sibling who already has lupus or may develop lupus.
Of all the discriminatory impacts lupus can have on women and women of color, the one that gives me the greatest concern is that elderly black women lupus patients have the highest rate of mortality, as compared with all other groups of lupus patients. Early diagnosis and treatment of lupus patients helps reduce mortality and improve quality of life.