AARDA Launches "My Autoimmune Story" Video Series

Emmy-nominated Actress Kellie Martin Shares Her Story, Calls on Others to Share Theirs, TooNew Survey Reveals Need for Increased Awareness/Education of Autoimmune Disease

Newswise — DETROIT, March 28, 2013 – The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) has launched its new “My Autoimmune Story” video series on its YouTube channel with the first story contributed by AARDA’s longtime spokesperson, Emmy-nominated actress Kellie Martin.

Part of AARDA’s 2013 March is National Autoimmune Awareness Month activities, the goal of the new series is to give the 50 million Americans afflicted with autoimmune disease (AD), as well as their families and friends, a national voice and platform to share their personal story.

“Preparing and sharing our personal autoimmune stories will help build critical mass and focus national attention on a major disease category in this country that is often overlooked,” said Martin, who has served as AARDA’s spokesperson since 1999. “Imagine the impact we would have if just one percent of the 50 million Americans suffering from autoimmune disease uploaded a video… that’s 500,000 stories.”

AARDA hopes by collecting and featuring these short videos, it will help educate people about the widespread impact of ADs, the difficulties in getting a diagnosis, the family or genetic component and the financial and emotional burden of living with these chronic illnesses.

AARDA is asking Americans who have been affected by AD – patients, families and friends -- to post a video response to Martin’s video, sharing their autoimmune story in a 1-3 minute video vignette (www.youtube.com/aardatube).

New Survey Shows Progress, Yet Underscores Need for Public EducationThe announcement of this series comes simultaneous to the release of AARDA’s newest public opinion research poll, conducted by GfK Roper, gauging Americans awareness of autoimmune disease. AARDA has conducted this benchmarking research every five years since 2003.

The latest survey reveals good and bad news. The good news is that over the last decade, Americans’ ability to name an AD has jumped by nearly 10 percent. The bad news, though, is that overall less than one in five Americans (15 percent) can name an AD. In addition, for the first time, the survey asked if they know anyone with an AD and few (17 percent) said yes. “Given the cold, hard facts we know -- 50 million Americans are afflicted, more than 100 diseases, one of the top 10 leading cause of death for women under 65 and some $100 billion dollars in direct health care costs -- the survey results further emphasize the need public education programs such as the “My Autoimmune Story” series,” said Virginia Ladd, executive director, AARDA.

Ladd added that in light of this, AARDA also plans on re-releasing its “Do You Know Your Family AQ?” PSA campaign. AQ is a play on IQ and stands for Autoimmune Quotient. How likely are you or a loved one to develop an autoimmune disease?

“Between both initiatives, AARDA hopes to significantly ratchet up American’s awareness of autoimmunity, a major disease category,” said Ladd.

Do You Know Your Family AQ? PSA CampaignGiven the family connection, knowing the health histories of other family members could help individuals determine their AQ. Therefore documenting and sharing your family’s medical history is key. The Family AQ multi-media PSA campaign, which also stars Martin, includes 30-second radio and television spots, as well as a video interview (visit www.aarda.org to view/listen to all campaign elements). AARDA also offers free a tip sheet designed to help Americans determine how likely they or a loved one are to develop an autoimmune disease, based on the prevalence of these diseases and their family history.

About Autoimmunity and Autoimmune DiseaseAutoimmune disease disproportionately affects women. Of the 50 million Americans living and coping with ADs, more than 75 percent are women. AD is one of the top 10 leading causes of death of women under the age of 65. It encompasses more than 100 diseases, including psoriasis, Graves’ disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and lupus. It is responsible for more than $100 billion in direct health care costs annually.

About AARDAAmerican Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is the nation's only non-profit organization dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity as a category of disease and a major women's health issue, and promoting a collaborative research effort in order to find better treatments and a cure for all autoimmune diseases. For more information, please visit www.aarda.org.

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