The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association is dedicated to the eradication of autoimmune diseases and the alleviation of suffering and the socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity through fostering and facilitating collaboration in the areas of education, public awareness, research, and patient services in an effective, ethical and efficient manner.
AARDA is the only national nonprofit health agency dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity, the major cause of serious chronic diseases. Approximately 50 million Americans, 20 percent of the population or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases. Women are more likely than men to be affected; some estimates say that 75 percent of those affected–some 30 million people–are women. Still, with these statistics, autoimmunity is rarely discussed as a women’s health issue.
Autoimmunity is a result of a misdirected immune system that causes one’s own immune system to attack the self. There are over 100 known autoimmune diseases; and unlike the many forms of cancer which are recognized as being part of the general term “cancer,” autoimmune diseases are recognized singularly rather than in the overall category of autoimmunity. The public in general is unaware of the autoimmune nature of these diseases. When most people hear one of these diseases referred to as an autoimmune disease, they incorrectly confuse the term autoimmune with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); or they think it is a form of cancer.
This lack of knowledge and collaborative effort results in untold suffering for persons with autoimmune diseases due to misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis which may result in damage to vital organs. The need to bring a national focus to autoimmunity as the common factor in all autoimmune diseases is vital in order to bring a collaborative effort to research, funding, early detection, and eventually, prevention and cure for all autoimmune diseases.
Some of the over 100 autoimmune diseases are lupus, type 1 diabetes, scleroderma, celiac, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, autoimmune hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves’ disease, myasthenia gravis, myositis, antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), Sjogren’s syndrome, uveitis, polymyositis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and demyelinating neuropathies.