New Online Forum for Autoimmune Disease Patients Provides Virtual Support Groups

Article ID: 554991

Released: 6-Aug-2009 2:00 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)

Newswise — Patients suffering with chronic autoimmune diseases from every corner of the globe can now find one another online to provide support, share experiences, and form relationships. The new Autoimmunity Forum launched by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is a virtual support group community nearly 400 members strong.

According to AARDA Executive Director and President, Virginia T. Ladd, "Today, patient advocate groups have to find patients where they are in order to assist them in getting the support and coping mechanisms that they need. While there are more than 80 autoimmune diseases and more than 23.5 million Americans who suffer from them, finding a local support group can be quite a challenge. By providing this new online service, AARDA hopes to provide an interactive source of information that has been tested by group members' own life experiences and make it accessible for autoimmune patients from every walk of life and every corner of the globe."

Autoimmune diseases are caused by autoimmunity, which is a result of a misdirected immune system that causes one's own immune system to attack the self. Which diseases are autoimmune? Lupus, type I diabetes, scleroderma, celiac, multiple sclerosis (MS), Crohn's disease, autoimmune hepatitis, and rheumatoid arthritis are all autoimmune diseases.

AARDA's Autoimmunity Forum, while new, has already been abuzz with patients discussing a myriad of subjects ranging from dealing with medications, insomnia, diagnosis frustration to simply sharing advice. Main subject categories are the following:

"¢ Helping Hands - Targeted to autoimmune patient caregivers and family members - patients and caregivers discuss problems, issues, and concerns.

"¢ Share Your Story " Patients share their own journey with autoimmune disease " allowing patients dealing with a similar ordeal to benefit from their experience.

"¢ Doctor and Patient Relationships " Patients discuss problems, issues, and concerns about their medical provider.

"¢ Autoimmune Diseases - Discuss breaking news and research discoveries regarding autoimmune diseases and/or gain more information about individual diseases.

"¢ Coping with Autoimmunity " Patients share special coping techniques.

"¢ General " Sharing and chatting with other autoimmune disease patients

To join the conversation, visit AARDA's Autoimmunity Forum ( today. For more information on autoimmune diseases or our online forum, contact AARDA by email (, by phone (586-776-3900), or on the Web (


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 30 million people--are women. Still, with these statistics, autoimmunity is rarely discussed as a women's health issue.


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