Jan. 16, 2013

Purple Bus Brings Lupus Awareness to Residents of Los Angeles

Celebrities Among Locals Who Toured 45-Foot Purple Bus; Residents Attended Education Programs About One of the World’s Most Devastating Diseases

The Lupus Foundation of America’s Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery™ National Tour--which includes a 45-foot purple bus with eight interactive exhibits--attracted Los Angeles residents, including several celebrities, who learned what it is like to live with lupus.

Tichina Arnold, who stars in TV Land’s Happily Divorced, and Ian Harding, who stars in ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, were among the celebrities who turned out to show their support in the fight against lupus, a devastating autoimmune disease that ravages different parts of the body and has no known cause or cure. Arnold, whose sister Zenay has lupus, also spoke about the disease at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles on Jan. 12.

The national tour followed the release of a new survey showing that nearly three-fourths of Americans between 18 and 34—the age group at the highest risk for lupus—have never heard of lupus or know little or nothing about the disease beyond the name Hispanics and African-Americans are at a particularly high risk for lupus, but awareness among these groups is critically low. The survey found that three out of four Hispanics and one out of two African Americans have either never heard of lupus or know little or nothing about the disease. Fifty-seven percent of the residents of Los Angeles County are of Hispanic or Latino origin or black, according to the 2011 U.S. Census.

“Lupus is perhaps the most misunderstood disease there is, so it’s crucial that we educate people,” said Sandra C. Raymond, President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America. “The knowledge gap surrounding lupus makes it difficult to fight on many levels—not only for patients to gain acceptance, but also to advance promising research. We are calling on Los Angeles and all Americans to join the fight against this disease that can rob people of the best years of their lives. Help us solve the cruel mystery.”

Thousands of Los Angeles residents received information on lupus during the bus tour which included patient education and continuing medical education events. The tour was in Los Angeles between Jan. 10 and 13. The bus and its eight interactive exhibits and displays allowed visitors to experience what it is like to face lupus, substantiating the urgent need to end the disease’s devastating impact. Visitors to the bus supported those affected by lupus by signing a petition asking Congress to fund lupus research and education services.

“Lupus really is a cruel mystery to me because I never know what it will do to me from day to day,” said Zenay Arnold, a Los Angeles resident who has lived with lupus for nine years. “I can be fine today but tomorrow I could be really sick or my joints could be swollen and I am not fully myself. Raising awareness about lupus is crucial-- I wish I had known about lupus before I got really sick.”

The Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery™ National Tour will next travel to Denver where it will be open to the public on the weekend of Jan. 26.

Lupus affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans, 90 percent of them women. The Lupus Foundation of America launched the campaign to show lupus for what it really is—the cruel mystery. The campaign, along with the Foundation’s new rallying cry, Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery™, aims to energize the public and ultimately Congress to devote serious resources to lupus research.

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