Lupus is a disease that by far affects more minority women than any other group of people. African American women are at least three and often four times as likely to suffer from lupus as their Caucasians counterparts. They usually develop the disease at an earlier age, with more severe symptoms that seem to be diagnosed much later than it should be.
All these factors together create serious health problems of minority women. The fact is that black women who are middle aged have the highest death rate from lupus than any other group and these statistics continue to get worse.
Big Numbers Affected
In the United States it is estimated that one and a half to two million people have lupus. That means that there are more people suffering with lupus than with AIDS, sickle-cell anemia, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis combined.
Most of them are women of prime childbearing age and most of these women are minorities whether they are African American, Hispanic or Asian.
Some groups are trying to help educate these minority women, though anyone is welcome to join their sessions, to teach them how to live better, and longer. These groups are hoping to offer courses; free if need be, to make a difference in the lives of people who are not able to understand what is happening to them once they have been diagnosed with lupus.
Education is Power
These classes are set up to enable lupus patients to learn how to care for themselves. They will be taught to understand their treatment options. They will learn the different drugs available to them and the benefits and side effects of each.
They will also learn how to deal with the flare-ups that can happen and when to go to see their health care providers.
They’ll learn how to eat better which has proven to help lupus sufferers. These women will also learn how to get the right medical treatment. Armed with a little knowledge a person is more likely to get better care.
They will also learn relaxation techniques and how to better manage the pain they will have. These kinds of courses increase the survival rate of the patients.
Fifteen Year-Olds Story
One woman’s story began when she was only fifteen. No one could understand why she got tired so easily, her hair fell out and she developed rashes. There were signs but no one knew how to interpret them. It took them twenty years to figure out what was wrong with her.
During this time she lost thirty percent of her kidney function. She spent the next ten years being given the wrong medications. Now, she is on the right lupus drugs and doing well.
The facts are that between 1960 and 2000 the survival rates for those suffering from lupus increased incredibly. In 1960 the five year rate after being diagnosed was only five percent. Now, it is ninety percent.
The ten year rate is over eighty percent. That is a tremendous difference, but minority women still do not do as well because of the inferior medical care that they get.
photo by Alex Guerrero Creative Commons Attribution License