Representative Patrick Kennedy (RI) introduced H.R. 7078, known as the Prevention, Awareness, and Research of Autoimmune Diseases Act of 2008, to Congress on September 25, 2008.
This bill would increase public awareness of and research on autoimmune diseases in order to help patients get diagnosed more quickly and receive proper treatment as soon as possible, as well as to improve the quality of life for those already suffering from autoimmune diseases.
“This legislation is so important to persons with autoimmune diseases. Although these diseases have a major impact on our society they are often left behind in both research funding and awareness,” said Virginia Ladd, who is president of American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA). “We do not know what causes them nor do we know what role the environment plays in triggering them. We thank Representative Patrick Kennedy for introducing this important bill and hope it has full support of Congress.”
H.R. 7078 targets minority communities that may be underserved or disproportionately affected and especially targets women who are affected three times as often as men. It calls for research on environmental triggers of autoimmune diseases, such as heavy metals, phthalates, and pharmaceuticals, some of which are known to “trigger” the initiation of autoimmune disease in genetically predisposed individuals.
The bill also calls for grants for education of health care providers on potential links between autoimmune diseases and cognitive and mood disorders, such as depression. A loan repayment program to qualified physicians who agree to conduct three years of autoimmune disease research is also part of the bill.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases and the prevalence of these diseases is rising. Collectively, autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in women under age 65 and represents at least $100 billion in annual direct health care costs.
About Autoimmunity and Autoimmune Diseases
There are more than 100 known autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, polymyositis, pemphigus, myasthenia gravis, vasculitis, psoriasis, autoimmune hepatitis, celiac disease, autoimmune platelet disorders, scleroderma, alopecia areata, vitiligo, autoimmune thyroid diseases, and sarcoidosis. Autoimmunity is the underlying cause of these diseases. It is the process whereby the immune system mistakenly recognizes the body’s own proteins as foreign invaders and begins producing antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues, causing a variety of diseases.
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is the nation’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity as a category of disease and a major women’s health issue, and promoting a collaborative research effort to find better treatments and a cure for all autoimmune diseases. For more information, please visit http://www.aarda.org
or call 586-776-3900.