In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, NIAMS recently hosted a Twitter chat in English and Spanish that focused on lupus, an autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects Hispanic women. Tweets were posted in both languages and questions were answered in the language in which they were received.
During the chat, NIAMS experts Dr. Mariana Kaplan, chief of the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch, and Dr. Susana Serrate-Sztein, director of the Division of Skin and Rheumatic Diseases, shared the latest advances in lupus research. Dr. Irene Blanco, assistant professor of rheumatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, served as a guest “tweeter” and assisted in responding to questions. Blanco is an expert in the clinical aspects of lupus and a former NIH grantee. Other ICs and HHS offices, including the HHS Office on Women’s Health, participated in the event.
The hour-long chat generated 578 tweets from 116 different contributors and reached a potential 1.2 million Twitter users. Participants asked questions about diagnosing lupus, the differences among the various types of lupus, its impact on people’s lives and what research is being conducted at NIH. Several lupus patients also posted messages about their personal experiences living with the disease.
The bilingual Twitter chat is part of NIAMS’s ongoing efforts to reach multicultural communities with health information and resources. The institute offers a suite of publications in Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese for people with limited English proficiency, as well as a dedicated Spanish-language portal on its web site.