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Lupus Awareness and its Effects on Women

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Lupus Awareness and its Effects on Women

We have finally made it to May flowers after enduring April’s showers and while we celebrate the beautiful things that May brings, we also want to shed light on a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more men than women: lupus. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, gender plays a significant role in lupus, with 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with lupus being women. For women, if you have lupus then you’re at a higher risk to develop other health problems including heart disease, and more. It is important for us to raise awareness about lupus because symptoms often go unnoticed and can lead to delayed diagnosis that can span several years.  

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the body’s immune system. The immune system becomes hyperactive and mistakenly attacks health tissue which leads to inflammation, swelling and damage to other parts of the body including the skin, joint pain, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and the brain. There are different types of lupus like Cutaneous Lupus and Drug-Induced Lupus, however, the most common type of lupus is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), which causes severe fatigue and joint pain. No matter what type of lupus you have, it can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms often resemble those of other illnesses and can range from either mild to life-threatening.  

Statistics show that lupus disproportionately affects women more than men with 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with lupus being women. Lupus is most common in women ages 15 to 44, or during the years they can have children and it can increase the risk for other health conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, and kidney disease. 

Researchers are still studying the potential causes of lupus. It is known that lupus is not a contagious disease. While genes are a significant factor, they are not the sole determinant of whether a person will develop lupus. Even individuals with one or more genes associated with lupus have a small chance of developing the disease. Researchers are investigating potential causes such as: 

  • The environment. Sunlight, stress, smoking, certain medicines, and viruses may trigger symptoms in people who are most likely to get lupus due to their genes. 
  • Hormones such as estrogen. Lupus is more common in women during their childbearing years when estrogen levels are highest. 
  • Problems with the immune system. 

How AFSPA Can Help 

Members enrolled in the Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) can learn about their plan benefit coverage from preventive care, office visits, and emergency care from the FSBP brochure. FSBP members also have access to a variety of wellness programs including programs that focus on care management for acute or chronic conditions at no additional cost. These programs provide education, clinical support and access to digital support and well-being tools to help you better manage your health. In addition, FSBP offers mental wellness programs like digital coaching, myStrength, or Lifestyle and Condition Health Coaching to help with your emotional concerns, stress, anxiety, and more. To learn more about these programs, visit 


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