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Detroit Pistons Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye Featured in New PSAs to Raise Awareness for Autoimmune Diseases

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Newswise — In collaboration among the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), and the Detroit Pistons, three new video PSAs will be premiered today featuring NAAF National Spokesperson, Detroit Piston, Charlie Villanueva and teammate Austin Daye. Two videos released by AARDA spotlight autoimmune diseases, while one released by NAAF highlights the autoimmune disease alopecia areata.

Charlie, who has alopecia areata universalis which causes complete hair loss all over one’s body, and Austin, whose mother suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological autoimmune disease, together exemplify the vast range of the autoimmune disease problem. “Like Charlie and Austin, autoimmune diseases have vastly different traits and qualities. However, no matter how different they may appear, they are connected: autoimmune diseases as a family originating from the same cause and Charlie and Austin as a part of a team working towards the same goal,” says Virginia Ladd, AARDA Executive Director and President.

It is this connectivity that the video PSAs seek to bring awareness to. There are 100+ autoimmune diseases. Because of the sheer number and diversity of these diseases, there is an alarming lack of awareness amongst most Americans regarding their own risk factors for developing an autoimmune disease. Fewer than 13 percent of Americans can name unaided any autoimmune diseases. Additionally, nearly one-third (31.9 percent) continue to name incorrectly AIDS as an autoimmune disease.

When faced with an awareness gap so large, groups like AARDA and NAAF are finding that collaboration is a key ingredient to ensuring that autoimmune diseases become a national focus. “NAAF, as members of the National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups (NCAPG), has always valued the work that can be accomplished when groups work together for the common good. This PSA project is only a small example of how nonprofits can better utilize donor dollars by working together to accomplish a common goal,” according to Vicki Kalabokes, President and CEO of NAAF.

The common goal in this series of PSAs is articulated best by Charlie and Austin. Together they ask Americans to know that autoimmune diseases are connected and run in families and that they affect people from every walk of life from children to senior citizens. Lastly, and most importantly, its’ imperative that people learn about their own family medical history to ascertain their own risk factors for developing autoimmune disease.

To view the PSAs, visit AARDA’s YouTube Channel or visit AARDA’s website at

About the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)

The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association is dedicated to the eradication of autoimmune diseases and the alleviation of suffering and the socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity through fostering and facilitating collaboration in the areas of education, public awareness, research, and patient services in an effective, ethical and efficient manner.

AARDA is the only national nonprofit health agency dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity, the major cause of serious chronic diseases.

Approximately 50 million Americans, 20 percent of the population or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases. Women are more likely than men to be affected; some estimates say that 75 percent of those affected--some 37.5 million people--are women. Still, with these statistics, autoimmunity is rarely discussed as a women's health issue.

For more information on autoimmunity and/or AARDA, contact AARDA by phone at (586) 776-3900 or on the web at

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