August 28, 2019

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Tennis Champion Venus Williams Encourages Patients to get “Back on Top” in New PSA about Rheumatic Disease

Public Service Announcement from the American College of Rheumatology Launches Nationwide During September’s Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month

Newswise — ATLANTA – World champion tennis player, Venus Williams, is teaming up with the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) to share important information about rheumatic diseases in a new public service announcement (PSA) set to air nationwide this fall.

Williams is the official spokesperson for September’s Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM), an annual event sponsored by the ACR and its public awareness campaign, Simple Tasks™. In the PSA, Williams discusses her experience living with a rheumatic disease and journey to diagnosis. After six years of swollen joints, fatigue, and eye and mouth dryness, Williams was finally diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome in 2011. After working with a rheumatologist and making some lifestyle changes, she was able to manage her disease and continue playing professional tennis. 

“As a professional athlete, I know what it feels like to want your body to perform at its best, but I also know what it’s like to be one of the 54 million Americans battling a rheumatic disease,” says Williams. “Today, I follow my rheumatologist’s treatment plan and am feeling healthy and energized.”

Throughout the month of September, Americans living with rheumatic disease are encouraged to visit  to learn more about how to better manage their disease and sign up to join the Simple Tasks community. Individuals who sign up during the month will be entered into a drawing to receive an item signed by Venus. Community members will receive bi-monthly updates from the ACR’s Simple Tasks team with health and wellness articles, policy updates, and special events/opportunities for patients from Simple Tasks’ Rheum4You blog. Interested individuals can sign up at

RDAM was created by the ACR in 2016 to increase public understanding and awareness of the symptoms, risk factors, treatment options, economic impact, and lifestyle or healthcare challenges associated with rheumatic diseases. An estimated 54 million U.S. adults––or one in four Americans over the age of 18––have been diagnosed with a rheumatic disease, an umbrella term that includes diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, osteoarthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and hundreds of lesser-known conditions.

Rheumatic diseases do not just affect the elderly.  Hundreds of thousands of children live with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. The CDC estimates that as many as 300,000 children have some type of juvenile arthritis. Rheumatic diseases are the nation’s leading cause of disability and generate $140 billion in annual health costs. Although there is no cure for rheumatic disease, early intervention and diagnosis by a rheumatologist can help patients manage symptoms and lifestyle limitations to live more healthy and normal lives. 

“The sooner a person is diagnosed and referred to the correct specialist to receive proper treatment for rheumatic disease, the better a patient’s chances are of managing their disease and enjoying a fuller, healthier life,” said Paula Marchetta, MD, MBA, president of the ACR. “During this September’s awareness month and beyond, I encourage all Americans living with rheumatic disease to join our community, learn about how to manage their disease, and participate in the ACR’s ongoing efforts to enact policies that promote safe, effective, affordable and accessible care and treatments. Everyone’s voice matters.”

Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month and the Rheum4You Newsletter are sponsored by Simple Tasks, a public awareness campaign from the American College of Rheumatology. To learn more about rheumatic diseases and Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month, visit  

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 About the American College of Rheumatology

The American College of Rheumatology is an international medical society representing over 7,700 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to empower rheumatology professionals to excel in their specialty. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

About Simple Tasks

The American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) Simple Tasks campaign aims to raise awareness about rheumatic diseases and their impact, highlight the healthcare policy issues that affect patients’ ability to access high-quality care, and provide education and resources to rheumatology patients to help them live well with rheumatic disease. For more information, visit

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