Lupus 101: What You Need To Know About Latinas And The Disease

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Late last year, rumors circulated that Selena Gomez had canceled the Australian and Asian leg of her world tour because she was suffering from a rare autoimmune disease -- lupus. While the claims remains unconfirmed, the story shed light on a dangerous disease that disproportionately affects minority women. 

So just what is lupus? Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly referred to as SLE or lupus, is sometimes called the “great imitator” because it presents a wide range of symptoms that can frequently be confused for other health problems. Currently, the American College of Rheumatology is working to demistify the disease through a campaign called “Simple Tasks.” According to their site, millions of Americans are living with painful, debilitating, and costly rheumatic disease -- such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus -- that can make even the simplest tasks impossible. When these diseases are properly managed, these people can live successful, normal lives, which is why it’s vital that patients see a doctor and receive the appropriate treatments. 

Because lupus is more common among women and minorities, we knew we needed to get the facts about the disease straight. We spoke with Dr. Carlos Lozada, a professor in the division of rheumatology at the University of Miami, about Latinas and the disease:

What is lupus? 

According to the American College of Rheumotology, lupus is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes inflammation and can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, nervous system and other organs of the body. Typically, patients experience tiredness, rashes, arthritis, and a fever. 

Dr. Carlos Lozada elaborated, classifying it as an autoimmune disease. “You can see it as a hyperactive immune system or as a confused immune system,” he says. “You have a system that should be protective of your body, but instead is attacking it.”

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Cristina Arreola, Associate Editor

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