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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June 25, 2019

Lupus Survival Disparities

JAMA. 2019;321(24):2397. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.7867

Despite advances in treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that have significantly increased the disease’s 5-year survival rate, serious racial disparities in outcomes persist, according to a CDC report.

The report used information on existing or new lupus cases recorded in the Georgia Lupus Registry from 2002 to 2004 with follow up through 2016. It found that black women were not only more likely to die from lupus than their white counterparts, they also died on average 13 years earlier. Black women with lupus were 3.34 times more likely to die than black women in the general population, while white women with lupus were 2.43 times more likely to die than white women in the general population. None of the white women with lupus died within 5 years of diagnosis, while mortality was elevated for black women from the date of diagnosis on.

“Despite increasing awareness of SLE and advancements in treatment, mortality among persons with SLE remains high, with the highest standardized mortality ratio among black females,” the authors wrote. Black women are also 3-times more likely to develop lupus than white women, the authors note.

Understanding what drives lupus-related deaths and factors that can prevent them may help reduce racial disparities and improve lupus outcomes overall, the authors note. The CDC is currently funding longitudinal studies through the Georgia Lupus Registry, California Lupus Surveillance Project, and Michigan Lupus Epidemiology and Surveillance Program. It is also funding efforts by the Lupus Foundation of America and the American College of Rheumatology. These efforts emphasize public and clinician awareness of signs and symptoms of SLE to encourage early diagnosis and treatment of the condition, which can improve outcomes. The campaigns also aim to boost patients’ self-management of their condition.