Part of the goals of the Oklahoma Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month is to educate the people on the prevalence, and risk factors, and the extreme lack of awareness of the public about autoimmune illnesses. The AARDA (American Autoimmune Related Disease Association) works with community leaders to organize activities and events that help educate the people of the most important points that one must know about autoimmune illnesses. These include:
- There are more than a hundred autoimmune illnesses in all, which include but are not limited to celiac disease, Addison’s disease, vasculitis, and Crohn’s disease.
- There are about 50 million people in America with an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases occur in groups. For instance, if you have a relative who has scleroderma, there’s a higher risk that you will develop an autoimmune disease.
- Only 13% of Americans can name an autoimmune illness.
- Women are more likely to be affected by autoimmune diseases than men. In fact, autoimmune diseases are among the ten most deadly killers of women 65 years and below.
These details have pushed the AARDA’s President, Virginia Ladd, to increase the level of awareness among the public. According to her, the incidence of some autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis have shown to be increasing yearly, yet solutions to this dilemma are still unknown. She also says that it is important for people to be more vigilant of the factors that make vulnerable to developing autoimmune diseases so that if and when symptoms occur, they can seek help early and begin treatment. Diagnosis and treatment at an earlier stage of the disease make a huge difference in one’s chances of becoming incapacitated or suffering organ failure.
Organizing events such as this one encourages community members to help in their own little ways in the elimination of autoimmune diseases and the relief of symptoms. It also fosters collaboration, public awareness, and improvement in patient services in all areas of the country.