Selena Gomez made headlines last week by ending her world tour early to focus on maintaining her health and happiness. The 24-year-old revealed a year ago that she had undergone chemotherapy to treat the chronic disease lupus, where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. She told fans she is struggling with lupus-related panic attacks and depression.
Google trends revealed that many people are not aware of the disease and its complications. There was a greater than 1000 per cent spike in Google searches for ‘what is lupus’ in the hours after Gomez’s announcement on Wednesday.
Earlier this year one of the largest global surveys looking at awareness of lupus among the general public was conducted. Key findings in the UK included:
- More than a quarter of respondents (26%) admitted they did not know lupus is a disease.
- More than half of respondents (51%) could not identify or did not know that lupus can result in serious health complications, such as kidney failure, anaemia or a heart attack.
- More than a third of respondents (42%) indicated they did not know any factors that may contribute to someone developing the disease.
“This has demonstrated how low public awareness of lupus is in the UK,” said Chris Maker, CEO of LUPUS UK. “Low awareness of lupus contributes to the significant delays in diagnosis that we observe of this chronic and potentially life-threatening disease – an average of 7.5 years from the onset of symptoms. It also places an additional boundary between people living with the incurable disease and their families, friends, and others who do not realise the many ways lupus can affect a person.”
October is Lupus Awareness Month in the UK. It is an important opportunity to raise awareness of the disease amongst the public and medical profession as well as improving the understanding of the impact that lupus can have. In 2016 LUPUS UK are aiming to highlight that lupus is often an ‘invisible illness’, making it harder for friends, family and colleagues to understand the impact that this serious and potentially life-threatening condition can have for people living with it.