State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) today announced a month-long citywide initiative to increase awareness of lupus, a chronic disease that, for unknown reasons, causes inflammation and serious damage to different parts of the body. While many women know the signs and health risks of breast cancer, few know about lupus, which mostly affects young women between the ages of 15 and 45. October is national lupus awareness month.
"Many women have learned to be on the lookout for signs of breast cancer, and that’s important, but lupus awareness is equally important," Senator Hassell-Thompson said. "The NYC hospital tour, put on by the Lupus Foundation, brings a variety of lupus experts to all five boroughs during lupus awareness month."
According to the Bronx/Westchester lawmaker, lupus can be difficult to diagnose because initial symptoms- joint pain, rashes, fever and fatigue- mimic other less serious illnesses. And since symptoms tend come and go, it can be years before an accurate diagnosis is made.
"What’s especially worrisome about this long delay is that early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious, life-threatening consequences, such as heart disease and kidney failure," Senator Hassell-Thompson said.
Senator Hassell-Thompson also noted that lupus is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans than among Caucasians. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans have lupus.
"New York City has excellent resources to help improve the quality of life for people with lupus and their families," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. The Lupus Cooperative of New York, which offers support groups in English and Spanish, can be reached at (212)-545-1843.
In the Bronx, the Get Into the Loop NYC Hospital Tour is scheduled for Montefiore Medical Center on Saturday, October 14th, from 9 AM - Noon. To register for the free program, call the Lupus Foundation at (212)-685-4118 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
"While lupus is widespread, public awareness lags behind many other illnesses," Senator Hassell-Thompson concluded. "I encourage all New Yorkers to take the time to get into the loop. Know the signs of lupus, see a doctor, and, if necessary, get treated as soon as possible."