One Patient's Positive Perspectives

Diagnosis and Treatment of Lupus:  African Americans, Hispanics/Latinas, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans are diagnosed with lupus two or three times more often than Caucasians; however, lupus affects people of all races and ethnicity.

Lupus racially discriminates!

The Lupus Foundation of America website is my data source for the charts, where it indicates that “Lupus is two to three times more prevalent among people of color, including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans.”  Unfortunately, the highest lupus incidence and mortality rates are among elderly black women.

This chart demonstrates the unfairness of lupus in the prevalence and incidence of lupus in women of color.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Minority Health publishes these lupus facts:

“Black and Hispanic/Latina women tend to develop symptoms at an earlier age than other women. African Americans have more severe organ problems, especially with their kidneys.

Between 1979 and 1998, death rates from lupus increased nearly 70% among black women between the ages of 45 and 64 years. Possible reasons include an increasing incidence of SLE, later diagnosis, less access to health care, less-effective treatments, and poorer compliance with treatment recommendations.  Each year during the study period, death rates were more than five times higher for women than for men and more than three times higher for blacks than for whites.”

Lupus Patients of Color are 71%

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports the following gender-related lupus facts:

“Anyone can get lupus. But 9 out of 10 people who have it are women. African American women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women. It’s also more common in Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and American Indian women.

They also tend to have more severe disease than whites. For example, African American patients have more seizures and strokes, while Hispanic/Latino patients have more heart problems. We don’t understand why some people seem to have more problems with lupus than others.”

Concerned about lupus discrimination

As a Caucasian woman with lupus, I am concerned about the discriminatory demographics of lupus and it’s unfairness toward my “lupus sisters” of color. While we cannot change the genetic and racial predispositions of any auto-immune disease such as lupus, we can help spread awareness about it.  We need to take the message of lupus awareness to the populations most heavily affected by it, to help promote early diagnosis and treatment.  We should get involved in organizations such as the Lupus Foundation of America and support their efforts on behalf of all lupus patients.

Everyone should know about lupus, and should learn to recognize the most common symptoms in themselves or someone else. Increased awareness impacts earlier diagnosis, which in turn has long-term impacts on decreasing the severity and mortality of lupus.  We can fight lupus discrimination with lupus awareness!


Comments on: "Diagnosis and Treatment of Lupus: Fact #11 – Lupus racially discriminates!" (2)

  1. A girl applied on our hospital for a work and she was called to start together with another girl for three months training. After their training we have to decide on whom hould we hire. At the middle of ther training we come to know she have been dealing with SLE, despite of her condition she showed an axcellent performance which made it very easy for us to decide right away that she will be the one to fill in the vacant position. Until one day her SLE flaired up and she wasn’t able to go to work for few days but with some treatments she recovered immediately although at some instance she has been having acid reflux which made her sick again and needed to rest for one week. My decision wasn’t changed at all. I understand fully her situation but our head coordinator at the unit has been having some doubts like if she could really perform her work and even one of our senior tech. changed her mind of course it is because of her absences and not thinking of her condition. I find it as a dicrimination, don’t you think so? I hate it since people like her should be given much understanding. She has been verry passionate and she really “love” her job and that is verry much different with other normal people who gets employed and does nothing really good at work, they only value money not the work itself! Can you pease help me with this? I’ve been fighting for her not becaue I pity her but because I believe in her. She has much potentials and aside from her good attitude she also has a goal or a dream. I wish I could do something for her.

    • Norine: There are a couple of things you can do for your friend, tell her you believe in her and tell her supervisor and perhaps your own supervisor about the good work ethics you have observed her displaying. In the U.S. a federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is responsible for enforcing the employment laws that protect people with disabilities and serious health conditions. You might encourage your friend to contact the local office of the EEOC in your city to see what advice or help they might be able to provide. I certainly hope she can work out a successful outcome! LA

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