WE ARE PROUD TO SHARE THESE 2017 STORIES:
Lupus is a debilitating autoimmune disease that predominantly affects young women and minorities, particularly African Americans. An estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. are living with some form of the disease and approximately one in every 250 African Americans is impacted. Lupus has no cure and can affect nearly any part of the body, resulting in many different symptoms. The most commonly experienced symptoms include aching joints, unexplained fever, weight loss, skin rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, hair loss, fatigue, and more. To combat lupus, the Highmark Foundation awarded a $90,000 grant to the Lupus Center of Excellence at Allegheny Health Network (AHN), part of the AHN Autoimmunity Institute, to help fund its programs.
Developed in line with the National Public Health Agenda for Lupus, the AHN programs provide specialized, lupus-focused education to both health care providers and members of the community who are at highest risk of developing the disease.
A number of AHN rheumatologists will uniquely function as "lupologists" following advanced training to use lupus-specific instruments and tools that allow for earlier diagnosis of lupus and better monitoring of a patient's condition over time.
Thanks to the Highmark Foundation funding, AHN will also hold a series of educational sessions at Federally Qualified Health Centers for providers. The sessions will focus on enhancing knowledge regarding lupus, its management, and unique care situations given the disease's tendency to afflict young women.
"We are pleased to support Allegheny Health Network's Lupus Center of Excellence through this grant to help raise awareness and improve the care and quality of life for people living with lupus, especially among communities most affected by the disease," said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. "This grant is a great example of how the Highmark Foundation funds programs and interventions that address the most prevalent chronic diseases facing the most vulnerable in the regions it serves."