Newswise — The Vasculitis Foundation is pleased to announce this week's kickoff of Vasculitis Awareness Month, which began this past Monday, May 1st and will continue through May 31, 2017. The goal of the annual observance, now in its 20th year, is to raise awareness about vasculitis, a rare, autoimmune disease that impacts every age group and gender.
The theme for the 2017 Awareness Month, “Learn, Connect, Engage," underscores the active, ongoing role played by the Vasculitis Foundation in providing patients, their family members and medical professionals with education, information and resources, along with the opportunity to be part of the vast, worldwide community built by the organization over the past three-plus decades.
"A number of exciting initiatives are rolling out in May, including the Foundation's first-ever international webinar, which will unite patient groups around the world. We are excited to not only connect with a global community, but ensure that we are reaching the younger patients and families impacted by vasculitis,” said Joyce Kullman, executive director of the Foundation.
Later this month, the Foundation is also debuting a new vasculitis patient guidebook that will be available, at no cost, via www.VasculitisFoundation.org.
The Vasculitis Foundation, established in 1996, has built a support and patient care network that stretches around the globe, says Kullman. "Even in the late 1990s, we were pioneers in leveraging the internet’s capabilities to help our burgeoning community find the information and help they needed. Over the years, as our community has grown by leaps and bounds, we've continued to embrace and adopt all types of online tools, resources and media to serve the needs of patients and physicians alike."
In recent years, the Foundation has become extremely active on social media, which Kullman says is key to spreading the word. “We not only target awareness messaging to our patients, but also encourage them to share our information with their network of support—typically friends and family." One Vasculitis Month outreach effort involves direct communication with specific vasculitis groups on Facebook, asking members of the various groups to spread the word about the Foundation and encourage fellow group members to be in contact when assistance, care or support is needed.
To further expand awareness, the Foundation has created a downloadable poster that provides an overview of the many services, resources and benefits provided by the Vasculitis Foundation. “We're asking everyone who interacts with VF to share these and other items with friends, family members and even their doctors to let people know that help is available for anyone whose lives are touched by one of the nearly 20 diseases that fall under the umbrella of vasculitis," says Kullman.
About Autoimmune Vasculitis
Vasculitis is the inflammation of the body’s blood vessels and affects men, women, and people of all ages. The cause of vasculitis is usually not known, but is believed to be caused by an irregularity in the immune system. There are many types of vasculitis; some can be so severe that the tissues and organs supplied by the affected vessels don't get enough blood. This shortage of blood can result in organ and tissue damage, even death. According to the Cleveland Clinic, which has long been active in vasculitis research, the prevalence of specific types of vasculitis in the United States is about 3/100,000 population for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's granulomatosis), 3/100,000 for polyarteritis nodosa, 26/100,000 for giant cell arteritis, and 1/100,000 for Takayasu arteritis. For just this small sample of selected vasculitides, the combined prevalence is over 30/100,000 population. About 100,000 Americans per year are hospitalized for care of vasculitis, and while its impact is most significant among patients and their families, it also impacts society through its effect on the U.S. workforce and health care system.
About the Vasculitis Foundation
The Vasculitis Foundation is the international organization for people with vasculitis. The VF empowers patients through disease education, raises awareness of vasculitis in the general public and medical community, and funds research to determine the cause, develop more effective treatments, and discover a cure. Since 2001 the VF has funded over $2,000,000 to research the cause and treatment of vasculitis. The Research Program funds studies seeking the cause(s) of vasculitis, more effective treatments and a cure for vasculitis. The VF Medical Consultants are among the world's finest and most experienced doctors who care for patients and conduct research. The Vasculitis Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The VF is committed to improving the lives of current and future patients and is positioned as the definitive resource for patients, family members, medical professionals and researchers seeking information about vasculitis.
For information about vasculitis and the Vasculitis Foundation, please visit www.vasculitisfoundation.org.