Lupus DayToday, the newly launched World Lupus Federation (WLF) — a coalition of global lupus patient groups — announces the results of one of the largest global surveys ever conducted looking at awareness and attitudes about lupus among the general public in 16 countries.

Key findings include

  • more than a third of respondents (36%) admitted they did not know lupus is a disease
  • more than half of respondents (51%) could not identify or did not know that lupus can result in serious health complications, such as kidney failure, anaemia or a heart attack
  • more than a third of respondents (36%) indicated they did not know any factors that may contribute to someone developing the disease.

The survey revealed several social stigmas toward people living with lupus because of a misconception that lupus is contagious. For example

  • 47% feel less than “comfortable” shaking hands with someone with lupus, compared with 36% who feel “very comfortable”
  • 44% feel less than “comfortable” sitting next to someone on a bus who has lupus
  • 1 in 3 people (31%) are “uncomfortable” sharing food with someone who has lupus underscoring that people strongly believe the disease is infectious
  • 23% of respondents are “uncomfortable’ hugging someone with lupus, with 11% of those respondents feeling “most uncomfortable.”

Raising awareness of lupus is a key objective of the WLF, which was organized to elevate lupus on the international stage and deliver a global rallying cry to bring greater attention and resources to combat lupus, a disease that affects more than five million people worldwide. As its first global initiative, the WLF is leading nearly 200 lupus patient groups in the annual observance of World Lupus Day on 10 May.

The WLF unites lupus patient groups around the world to improve the quality of life for all people affected by lupus. The WLF is spearheaded by the Lupus Foundation of America and guided by an international steering committee representing five continents to ensure a co-ordinated effort among global lupus organizations and enhance their capacity to serve people with lupus through programmes of education, awareness and advocacy.

Learn more about the survey and the World Lupus Federation. Visit the World Lupus Day website, www.worldlupusday.org.