Newswise — A recent firestorm of news reports surrounding Lady Gaga has the Web abuzz with questions about the superstar’s health now that she has confirmed a family history of lupus and has tested borderline positive for the disease.

The Lady Gaga story underlines an important message for millions of other Americans who have a history of autoimmune disease in their families, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA).

“Lupus is one of more than 100 autoimmune diseases and these diseases cluster in families which means that having a family member with lupus could mean you are at increased risk for lupus and other autoimmune diseases,” explained Virginia T. Ladd, AARDA President and Executive Director.

Does that mean that Lady Gaga is at risk for more than lupus?

“It’s certainly possible,” says Ladd. “My own family is a good example. I come from a very large family having grown up with 13 sisters and brothers, and I myself have lupus. I have siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, as well as children that have a myriad of other autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Family history is an important indicator of someone’s risk for autoimmune disease. That’s why it’s so important, just as Lady Gaga has done, to know your family history with these diseases, to inform your doctors, and take proactive steps to ensure your future health.”

AARDA has developed a plan for people to get the facts on their own family history with autoimmune diseases. It’s called AQ. AQ is a play on IQ and stands for Autoimmune Quotient. It’s about knowing how likely you or a loved one is to develop an autoimmune disease, based on the prevalence of these diseases and your family medical history.

AARDA has devised an eight-step plan to help all Americans increase their awareness of autoimmune diseases and calculate their AQ, including:

1. Understand that autoimmune disease constitute a major U.S. health crisis affecting 50 million Americans.

2. Get educated about the 100+ diseases that are autoimmune.

3. Be aware that autoimmune diseases target women 75 percent more often than men.

4. Know that autoimmune diseases run in families.

5. Do your own family medical history and inform your physician if you find that you have a history of autoimmune disease.

6. Keep a “symptoms” list if you believe you may have an autoimmunedisease.

7. Realize that getting an autoimmune disease diagnosis is oftenchallenging.

8. Hold the power to protect your family’s future health and well-beingin your hands – be proactive about your health.

For more information on autoimmune diseases, or how to find your AQ,visit the AARDA Web Site at, or call 586-776-3900.

About the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)

The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association is dedicated tothe eradication of autoimmune diseases and the alleviation of sufferingand the socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity through fostering andfacilitating collaboration in the areas of education, public awareness,research, and patient services in an effective, ethical and efficientmanner.

AARDA is the only national nonprofit health agency dedicated tobringing a national focus to autoimmunity, the major cause of seriouschronic diseases. Approximately 50 million Americans, 20 percent of thepopulation or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases.Women are more likely than men to be affected; some estimates say that75 percent of those affected--some 37.5 million people--are women.Still, with these statistics, autoimmunity is rarely discussed as awomen's health issue.

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

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