DETROIT, March 27, 2013 – The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) has launched its new “My Autoimmune Story” video series on its YouTube channel with the first story contributed by AARDA’s longtime spokesperson, Emmy-nominated actress Kellie Martin.
Part of AARDA’s 2013 March is National Autoimmune Awareness Month activities, the goal of the new series is to give the 50 million Americans afflicted with autoimmune disease (AD), as well as their families and friends, a national voice and platform to share their personal story.
“Preparing and sharing our personal autoimmune stories will help build critical mass and focus national attention on a major disease category in this country that is often overlooked,” said Martin, who has served as AARDA’s spokesperson since 1999. “Imagine the impact we would have if just one percent of the 50 million Americans suffering from autoimmune disease uploaded a video… that’s 500,000 stories.”
AARDA hopes by collecting and featuring these short videos, it will help educate people about the widespread impact of ADs, the difficulties in getting a diagnosis, the family or genetic component and the financial and emotional burden of living with these chronic illnesses.
AARDA is asking Americans who have been affected by AD – patients, families and friends — to post a video response to Martin’s video, sharing their autoimmune story in a 1-3 minute video vignette (www.youtube.com/aardatube).
New Survey Shows Progress, Yet Underscores Need for Public Education
The announcement of this series comes simultaneous to the release of AARDA’s newest public opinion research poll, conducted by GfK Roper, gauging Americans awareness of autoimmune disease. AARDA has conducted this bench-marking research every five years since 2003.
The latest survey reveals good and bad news. The good news is that over the last decade, Americans’ ability to name an AD has jumped by nearly 10 percent. The bad news, though, is that overall less than one in five Americans (15 percent) can name an AD. In addition, for the first time, the survey asked if they know anyone with an AD and few (17 percent) said yes.
“Given the cold, hard facts we know — 50 million Americans are afflicted, more than 100 diseases, one of the top 10 leading cause of death for women under 65 and some $100 billion dollars in direct health care costs — the survey results further emphasize the need public education programs such as the “My Autoimmune Story” series,” said Virginia Ladd, executive director, AARDA.
Ladd added that in light of this, AARDA also plans on re-releasing its “Do You Know Your Family AQ?” PSA campaign. AQ is a play on IQ and stands for Autoimmune Quotient. How likely are you or a loved one to develop an autoimmune disease?
“Between both initiatives, AARDA hopes to significantly ratchet up American’s awareness of autoimmunity, a major disease category,” said Ladd.
Do You Know Your Family AQ? PSA Campaign
Given the family connection, knowing the health histories of other family members could help individuals determine their AQ. Therefore documenting and sharing your family’s medical history is key. The Family AQ multi-media PSA campaign, which also stars Martin, includes 30-second radio and television spots, as well as a video interview (visit www.aarda.org to view/listen to all campaign elements). AARDA also offers free a tip sheet designed to help Americans determine how likely they or a loved one are to develop an autoimmune disease, based on the prevalence of these diseases and their family history.