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.
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.”
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.”
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!