2006-10-13 / Front Page

October Is Lupus Awareness Month

State Senator Malcolm A. Smith announced a month-long citywide initiative during Lupus Awareness Month in October, to increase awareness of lupus, a chronic disease that for unknown reasons causes inflammation and serious damage to various 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, Smith says.

"Many women have learned to be on the lookout for signs of breast cancer, and that's important, but lupus awareness is equally important," Smith 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 Queens lawmaker, lupus can be difficult to diagnose because initial symptoms- joint pain, rashes, fever and fatigue- mimic other less serous illnesses. And since the symptoms tend to 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," Smith said.

The senator also noted that lupus is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. 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," Smith said. "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."

The Lupus Cooperative of New York, which offers support groups in English and Spanish, can be reached at (212) 545-1843. To contact the Lupus Alliance of Long Island/

Queens, call their toll-free number at (800) 850-9000.

The "Get Into The Loop" NYC hospital tour is scheduled for Saturday, October 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Gurwin Teaching Center, Ground Floor, 275-05 76th Avenue, New Hyde Park. To register for the free program, call the Lupus Foundation at (212) 685-4118.

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