African Women Now Face Increased Risks of Lupus, Scientists Weigh In

African Women Now Face Increased Risks of Lupus, Scientists Weigh In

Latest research now points to the fact that African women now face increased risks of being diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus as the autoimmune disease is simply known – according to a report by News Deeply.

Although averagely common in the United States, lupus was thought to be rare in Africa until recently. Affecting mostly women, about 1.5 million Americans have the disease with nearly 90% of these being women. Medical experts say lupus affect women nine times more than it does men, and the reason for this remains largely unknown.
While medical authorities had always thought lupus was not in Africa, several studies and observations now show that the disease is actually in Africa – and that lack of awareness had masked its presence all along. Medical doctors had treated the disease without actually knowing what they were treating because the symptoms of lupus corresponded with that of malaria and other diseases.

What to know about lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that sets the body against itself, causing the body’s defense mechanism to attack itself until tissue and organ damage result. What really causes lupus is not known at the moment, and there is no known cure for it at the moment.
Lupus initially presents itself with mouth ulcers, skin rashes, fever, fatigue, and joint pain among other common symptoms, causing medical doctors to misdiagnose it for malaria until terrible damage is done. Early diagnosis has been very helpful in the United States where medical technology has made experts to easily identify the disease, but it has often proven fatal in Africa where doctors are still unfamiliar with it.
Medical authorities are yet to fully know why lupus affects women nine times more than men, but they have come up with a number of theories. They think women are affected more by lupus because of their strong immunity to diseases; or as a result of fluctuations in sex hormones occasioned by pregnancy, onset of puberty, and menstrual cycles.

Lupus is more common in Africa than earlier thought

Since lupus could present malaria symptoms, doctors had been deceived into prescribing antimalaria drugs which have worked to reduce the symptoms of the disease – but this has not reversed the spread of the disease in any way.
Dr. Olufemi Adelowo, a professor at the Lagos State University College of Medicine revealed he treats nearly 40 lupus patients every week, with up to four of these patients newly diagnosed. Adelowo and other rheumatologists and nephrologists now run several clinics dedicated largely to the diagnosis and treatment of lupus in the country.
“There is an increased awareness of lupus among many doctors, and they have therefore been sensitized to pick up lupus cases early and refer early,” Dr. Adelowo noted.

Dr. Ikechi Okpechi of the University of Cape Town together with other clinicians and medical researchers now operate the African Lupus Genetics Network (ALUGEN) with the purpose of running antibody tests for lupus, treating the disease, raising awareness, form procedural policies, raise funds, and work out collaborations between government agencies and private stakeholders. There is already the SLE Lupus Foundation formed for this purpose in the United States.

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