American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)
AARDA is the only national nonprofit focused on advocacy, education, public awareness, research, and patient information for the 100+ conditions in the autoimmune disease category. Learn more at www.aarda.org.
About Autoimmune Diseases
There are more than 100 known autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis, Graves’ disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, relapsing polychondritis, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and lupus. The underlying cause of all of these diseases is autoimmunity which disproportionately affects women. Of the 50 million Americans living and coping with ADs, more than 75 percent are women. Given the genetic component, autoimmune diseases can run in families. AD is one of the top 10 leading causes of death of women under the age of 65 and is responsible for more than $100 billion in direct health care costs annually.
One of the functions of the immune system is to protect the body by responding to invading microorganisms, such as viruses or bacteria, by producing antibodies or sensitized lymphocytes (types of white blood cells). Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one's own body. In some cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad category of related diseases in which the person's immune system attacks his or her own tissue. Visit AARDA to learn more.