(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bob Bennett (R-UT) introduced legislation that will strengthen our nation's efforts to identify the causes of lupus, improve lupus data collection and epidemiology, heighten lupus awareness and understanding, and move toward a cure. The legislation is called the Lupus REACH - Research, Education, Awareness, Communication, and Health Care - Amendments of 2007.
"Close to two million Americans confront the pain, fatigue, and life threatening consequences of lupus each day," said Senator Murray. "Yet, too little is known about why lupus affects certain populations, why it is increasingly deadly, and what can be done to better treat it. The REACH legislation bolsters our nation's investment in research so that we have the tools to give future generations hope."
"Lupus is a very serious, life threatening disease that can attack virtually any organ in the human body. Yet, because it often mimics symptoms of other diseases, diagnosis can be very difficult," said Senator Bennett. "I'm happy to join Sen. Murray in supporting this critical legislation that aims to reduce and prevent the suffering caused by this debilitating disease."
Lupus is a life threatening and life diminishing disease that can cause inflammation and tissue damage to virtually any organ system in the body, including the skin, joints, other connective tissue, blood and blood vessels, heart, lungs, kidney, and brain. The symptoms of lupus make diagnosis difficult because they are sporadic and are often similar to the symptoms of many other illnesses.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, lupus affects 1.5 to 2 million Americans. Lupus disproportionately affects women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans and is generally more prevalent in minority populations - a health disparity that remains unexplained. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of lupus mortality has increased since the late 1970s and is higher among older African-American women. Comprehensive research is needed to improve our understanding of these health disparities and move us toward closing the gaps.
The REACH legislation aims to ensure that health professionals are aware of lupus' signs and symptoms so that people with lupus receive the prompt, appropriate care they need and deserve.
For more information on World Lupus Day visit: www.worldlupusday.org