Lupus Treatment and Infection Risk Management
By carefully weighing and balancing each individual’s medication options, lupus healthcare professionals play an important role in minimizing their patients’ infection risk. Infection is linked to hospitalization and mortality, and it is estimated that infection contributes to 29.2-43.9% of illness in people with lupus. While some medications commonly prescribed to people with lupus have been shown to weaken immunity and make infection more likely, there are also current and new lupus therapies on the horizon that don’t increase infection risk.
Common lupus treatment options associated with increased infection risk include glucocorticoids (also known as corticosteroids, a class of steroid with powerful anti-inflammatory effects), as well as immunosuppressive drugs like mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and azathiorprine (AZA). Though these medications come with potential risks, they are otherwise safe and highly effective therapies for reducing lupus disease activity.
Additionally, many other medications are not associated with increased infection risk in lupus, including:
- Methotrexate (MTX)
- Low-dose interleukin-2 (Ld IL-2)
- Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)
HCQ (Plaquenil®), for one, is a cornerstone treatment for lupus and has been shown to be safe and beneficial even in those with infections. There are many safe, newly developing therapies for lupus that are currently under investigation and likely to become available in the coming years.
Additional treatment options for lupus are needed, and the future is bright. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication and learn more about treatments being studied for lupus.
Interested in getting research like this straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our bimonthly Inside Lupus Research email for all the latest.