In honor of Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month, it's a good time to take a look at the activities of AARDA on behalf of autoimmune disease patients, researchers and practitioners.
About Autoimmune DiseaseAccording to AARDA, approximately 50 million Americans -- 20 percent of the population -- suffer from autoimmune diseases. Some experts suggest that many more people may have autoimmune conditions. One thing the experts do agree on - the majority of autoimmune patients are women. According to AARDA, autoimmune diseases are responsible for more than $100 billion in direct health care costs annually.
An autoimmune disease is a condition that causes the immune system to launch a misdirected attack on the body's own tissues, organs or glands. More than 100 different conditions are categorized as autoimmune.
The following are some of the other more commonly known autoimmune diseases:
- Alopecia areata
- Autoimmune dysautonomia
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Lupus (SLE)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Raynaud's disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Type 1 diabetes
AARDA has an excellent list of informational web pages about many autoimmune conditions. The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases also studies and reports on a number of autoimmune diseases.
About AARDAAARDA was founded in 1991 by Virginia Ladd, as a nonprofit association. For more than two decades, AARDA has conducted successful efforts to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases, and has dedicated its efforts to fostering and facilitating collaboration in the areas of autoimmune disease education, public awareness, research, and patient services. AARDA conducts a variety of activities, including the following:
- Physician Conferences and symposia
- Public seminars for patients and families
- National Awareness Campaign Efforts, including public awareness campaigns, and a series of autoimmune walks throughout the nation.
- Autoimmune Research
- 800# Referral Line for Patients - which provides literature and information via telephone - 1-800-598-4668
- Newsletter -- Quarterly newsletter on autoimmune disease and news, InFocus
About Virginia LaddAt the helm of AARDA, and one of the keys to the group's success in advocacy, is the group's founder and President/Executive Director, Virginia Ladd. Prior to founding AARDA, Mrs. Ladd served as president and executive director of the Lupus Foundation of America. Mrs. Ladd has long list of accomplishments in the health advocacy and autoimmune arena, including:
- key to the formation of the International Alliance of Patients' Organizations (IAPO)
- member of the board of directors for the UN NGO Health Committee
- founder and facilitator for the National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups (NCAPG), an organization of 29 national autoimmune disease-specific groups.
- first non-researcher to be awarded the "AESKU.AWARD for Life Contribution to Autoimmunity," presented to her at the 7th International Congress on Autoimmunity
- recipient of the prestigious Heritage Award of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association.
- addressed the United Nations on behalf of AARDA, speaking on "Women and Autoimmune Diseases: Gender and Biological Perspective,"
- serves on several committees of the National Institutes of Health, including the Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Committee; the Public Interest Committee for the National Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood; the Public Interest Group for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; and the Panel of Experts for the NIH Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan.
- Jefferson Award Honoree from the American Institute for Public Service
Contacting AARDAIf you are interested in joining AARDA, subscribing to their newsletter, or obtaining literature or referrals, the following is their contact information:
National Office: 22100 Gratiot Ave, East Detroit, MI 48021, Phone: 586.776.3900
Washington Office: 750 17th Street, N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20006, Phone: 202.466.8511
National toll-free patient information line and literature requests: 1-800-598-4668
AARDA on Social MediaAARDA is active on social media, and you'll find them on both Facebook and Twitter.