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Program provides education and awareness of Lupus

April 3, 2009: State Rep. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) has introduced a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives to create the Lupus Education and Awareness Program (House Bill 105). 

This bill would create the Lupus Education and Awareness Program (LEAP) in the Ohio Department of Minority Health.  The primary responsibility of the program will be to raise public awareness, educate consumers, and educate and train health professional human services providers, and other audiences.  

The bill also establishes an interagency council on lupus.  The council, chaired by the Director of the Department of Health, will be charged with ensuring coordination of lupus education and awareness efforts and efforts to address health conditions disproportionately affecting women and minorities.

The bill establishes an advisory panel to provide input and counsel regarding the Lupus Education and Awareness Program.  The panel will consist of no more than two representatives from the department of health; at least three individuals with lupus; at least five individuals from lupus non-profit health organizations, and at least five scientists or clinicians with experience in lupus.

The month of April is National Minority Health Month, a national campaign that promotes the education and awareness of diseases that affect minorities.  “The introduction of this legislation during National Minority Health Month will bring attention to the fact that lupus affects minorities disproportionately.  Nearly 2 million Americans have lupus; one in every 185 Americans.  Unfortunately, 90% of lupus patients are women,” said Rep. Williams.

Lupus is difficult to diagnose and has no cure.  The disease affects various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, brain, and gastrointestinal tract.  More U.S.-Americans have lupus than cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, or AIDS, making it one of the country’s most prevalent medical problems.  Like many diseases, early diagnosis and proper medical treatment may control the disease. 

“The Lupus Education and Awareness Program is big step toward educating the public about the effects of this debilitating disease,” said Rep. Williams.  “Ohio can be a leader in helping people understand and deal with lupus.”

House Bill 105 has been assigned to the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee for consideration.






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