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World Autoimmune Arthritis Day: A ''Drive'' to Raise Global Awareness

World Autoimmune Arthritis Day: A 'Drive' to Raise Global Awareness

Written by Dr. Kaushik Bharati, MSc, PhD, FRSPH (London)
Article Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on May 18, 2019 at 4:08 PM
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  • World Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis Day is celebrated on 20th May every year
  • Its main objective is to generate awareness about arthritis in which autoimmunity and autoinflammation play a major role
  • It aims to lend a voice to those living with the disease and help them cope better

World Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis Day (WAAD) is celebrated on 20th May every year and aims to generate awareness about arthritis having autoimmune and autoinflammatory components. WAAD was established in 2012 by the International Foundation for Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Arthritis (IFAA), USA.

The event is also sponsored by IFAA and involves a 47-hour long virtual 'auto' race around the world through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This is why IFAA dubs WAAD as an official global 'race' to generate awareness about autoimmune and autoinflammatory arthritis.

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World Autoimmune Arthritis Day: A 'Drive' to Raise Global Awareness

Many global non-profit organizations participate in the event, which reaches thousands of patients, caregivers, and supporters in over 62 countries across the globe. Some of the event partners include the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), Creaky Joints, Lupus UK, International Still's Disease Foundation, International Pain Foundation, Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation, Arthritis New Zealand, and National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society.

The World Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis Day Theme for 2019 is 'AUTO,' which aims to 'drive' global awareness about arthritic diseases, focusing on the type of arthritis by differentiating arthritis caused by autoimmunity or autoinflammation from the more common type of arthritis, namely, osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear, excessive weight, injury, or aging.

A better understanding of these diseases can help in early detection, diagnosis and treatment, which will prevent irreversible damage and disability. It also focuses on alleviating suffering and reducing the socioeconomic burden of autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases by encouraging collaboration in the areas of education, research, public awareness, and health services in an effective and efficient manner.

How is World Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis Day Celebrated?

  • Knowledge Dissemination: Dissemination of knowledge is important for empowering patients and their families. This can be achieved through various ways such as messages, pamphlets, posters, real-life stories, and health information packages
  • Advocacy: Advocacy efforts help to raise awareness and give a voice to those living with arthritic diseases, not only at the community and national levels, but also across the world
  • Networking: Setting-up a global network consisting of government representatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), advocates, companies, medical experts, and other stakeholders will help to raise awareness, as well as develop and implement solutions for the benefit of patients
  • Twitter / Facebook Chats: These can be very effective in reaching a large number of people and encouraging them to join the conversation. For example, the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) conducted Twitter and Facebook chats using the hashtag #ConditionConfident in February and April this year
  • Webinars: These are effective ways of reaching the new generation. In this context, AARDA conducted a webinar on "Knowledge is Empowerment" in March this year to raise awareness about autoimmune and autoinflammatory arthritis
  • Media: The media, both print and electronic, should be encouraged to cover the events in order to spread the message among the general population about the role of autoimmunity and autoinflammation in arthritis
  • Donations & Fundraising: Generous donations and fundraising activities can go a long way towards providing better care and support for arthritis patients to help them in coping with the condition. Donations can also support medical research for developing better and more effective treatments for arthritis, as well as for arthritis educational efforts
  • Interactions & Discussions: Interacting with patients and discussing their problems is crucial for identifying critical issues and finding solutions by brainstorming
  • Real-life Stories: Real-life stories are important for highlighting the problems faced by patients, which help to demonstrate the need for solutions
  • Wearing "Blue": The awareness color for arthritis is blue. Wearing a blue awareness ribbon, wristband or T-shirt will not only raise awareness, but also financially support needy patients from the sales proceedings

Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis: Facts & Figures

  • Arthritis is one of the most common chronic diseases
  • 54.4 million or 1 in 4 adults in the US are affected by arthritis
  • Arthritis is one of the leading causes of work-related disability
  • Arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain
  • 23.7 million US adults experience activity limitation due to arthritis
  • Adults with arthritis are 2.5 times more likely to have falls
  • Over 100 autoimmune diseases have been identified so far
  • 36 years is the average age of onset of autoimmune and autoinflammatory arthritis

What is the Difference Between 'Autoimmune' and 'Autoinflammatory' Arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of joint diseases.

Autoimmune arthritis, like other autoimmune diseases, is caused by dysregulation of the immune system, as a result of which autoantibodies attack the joints, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation. It also causes extreme fatigue, low-grade fever, flu-like symptoms, and 'brain fog' or 'mental cloudiness,' which makes it difficult for patients to think. These diseases are progressive, permanent, and irreversible, which underscores the need for early intervention.

The difference between 'autoimmune' and 'autoinflammatory' arthritis depends on the type of immune response, which is of two types - 'innate' and 'adaptive.' Innate immunity is inherent in the body from birth, whereas adaptive immunity is acquired through exposure to an antigen. Autoimmunity results from a faulty adaptive immune response, whereas autoinflammation occurs due to a defective innate immune response. The common term in both is 'auto,' which means 'immune mediated.'

So, on World Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Arthritis Day, let us renew our pledge to raise funds, increase consciousness, and show solidarity for the millions of people suffering from one of the many arthritic diseases across the globe.

References :
  1. Knowledge is Empowerment - American Autoimmune Related Disease Association Inc. (AARDA), USA - (https://www.aarda.org/knowledge-is-empowerment/)
  2. World Autoimmune & Autoinflammatory Arthritis Day - International Foundation for Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Arthritis (IFAA), USA - (https://www.aiarthritis.org/aiarthritisday)
  3. Arthritis-Related Statistics - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA - (https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm)

Source: Medindia

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