The Jamaica Gleaner, May 11, 2016 - In observance of World Lupus Day yesterday, the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica (LFJ) opened new offices. This is the first time that an office and learning centre of this nature will be made available to serve the needs of persons living with lupus, as well as the general public.
World Lupus Day is about bringing further awareness to the plight of persons living with the disease, noted Dr Stacy Davis, president of the LFJ, "and we at LFJ also join the rest of the world with one voice in championing the cause for persons living with lupus".
She continued, "There is no boundary to the impact of lupus. Lupus is a global health problem that affects people of all nationalities, races, ethnicities, genders and ages. Lupus can affect any part of the body in any way at any time, often with unpredictable and life-changing results. While lupus knows no boundaries, knowing all you can about lupus can help control its impact."
Davis said the opening of LFJ's new centre was a significant milestone for persons living with lupus.
"This was an important goal for the foundation that has been in gestation for more than 30 years. Now finally patients, their families and any one affected can come in and learn more about the disease and treatment options," she said.
The Lupus Foundation of Jamaica office is located at 7 Barbados Avenue, New Kingston, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Learning Centre is open from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
WHAT IS LUPUS?
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or simply lupus, is a disorder of the immune system and one of the least known major diseases. It is a chronic (lifelong) disorder of the immune system that results in abnormal inflammation of tissues almost anywhere in the body, including skin, joints, kidneys, blood, lungs, heart and brain.
Common symptoms of lupus include fatigue (tiredness), rashes on the face and body, hair loss, joint pain or swelling of the legs. But lupus can be extremely variable in its severity and manifestations, and may produce different signs and symptoms in different persons; some persons are only mildly affected, while others can feel very ill or suffer life-threatening or disabling complications. Even for one person, symptoms may vary at different times in their lives, and there may be periods of increased or severe symptoms known as flares.
Lupus most commonly first affects young women at the prime of their lives, 20s and 30s, when they may be starting careers or have young families; however, all ages, including children and men, can be affected as well.
WHAT CAUSES LUPUS,
AND CAN IT BE TREATED?
The cause of lupus is not fully understood, but genes as well as environmental factors may both play a role. It is not cancer and it is not contagious. There is no definite way to avoid getting lupus or to predict whether you will get it, but by being aware you can recognise symptoms quickly and be diagnosed and treated early, which can make a big difference.
Although there is no a cure for lupus, knowledge and understanding of the disease is greater than ever before; and treatments now exist that can be very effective in keeping the disease under control, allowing persons with lupus to live longer and better than ever. In addition, for someone who has lupus, good understanding of their condition, adequate support and expert care and monitoring go a long way to improve outcomes and quality of life.
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