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June 30, 2017
NIAMS, NIDDK Partner to Increase Lupus Awareness

NIDDK’s Natalie Shuster (standing, fourth from l) and Eileen Newman (standing, r) and NIAMS’s
NIDDK’s Natalie Shuster (standing, fourth from l) and Eileen Newman (standing, r) and NIAMS’s Colleen Dundas (standing, second from r) pose with Chi Eta Phi volunteers and church members at a local Kidney Sundays event.

People often turn to their places of worship for guidance on how to live better. These faith-based settings offer “teachable moments” for providing relevant and reliable health information. Recently, NIAMS joined forces with NIDDK and Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., to help community faith leaders raise awareness about lupus in their congregations as part of NIDDK’s Kidney Sundays annual outreach program.

The initiative, promoted during National Kidney Month, brings attention to kidney disease as a prevalent health issue in the African-American community. This year, NIAMS helped hone the focus on lupus, an autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects African Americans. “Although some people may have heard of lupus, many don’t know that it is a kidney-related disease,” said Priscilla Murphy, first vice president of Chi Eta Phi, a professional organization for nurses dedicated to leadership and community service.

“Lupus is a complex disease and it can affect many parts of the body,” said Anita Linde, director of the NIAMS Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications. “This collaboration between NIH and Chi Eta Phi is a wonderful example of the power of partnerships to improve public health.”

Lupus is most common in women, especially those in their childbearing years who are in the prime of their lives—raising families, going to school and building careers. African-American and Hispanic women tend to have more severe organ damage from lupus, especially to the kidneys. Lupus is also common in women of Asian and Native American descent. With symptoms such as fatigue, achy joints and sun sensitivity, lupus may look different for each person, making it difficult to diagnose.

“Working with NIAMS to highlight a condition that involves both our ICs’ research areas makes perfect sense and really serves the affected audience,” said Kathy Kranzfelder, director of NIDDK’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison. “I’d love to see more of this sort of cross-reliance on the subject matter experts and cross-promotion of the resulting messages.”

The collaboration reached 146 churches across 24 states nationwide. Each Kidney Sundays event provided opportunities to engage community members about healthier living, while offering free blood pressure checks and informational handouts.

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