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Home - News - The Growing Epidemic: Autoimmune Diseases on the Rise

The Growing Epidemic: Autoimmune Diseases on the Rise

January 29, 2024

The incidence of autoimmune diseases (AID) has been steadily increasing over the years. AID refers to a group of diseases in which the immune system loses its ability to tolerate self-components and instead attacks the body's own organs, tissues, or cells, leading to damage. AID can be classified into two major categories based on the affected organs or tissues: organ-specific AID and non-organ-specific AID.


Organ-specific AID refers to diseases with lesions confined to specific organs or tissues, such as multiple sclerosis, autoimmune liver diseases, and type 1 diabetes. Non-organ-specific AID encompasses a group of diseases that affect multiple organs or systems, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), Sjogren's syndrome (SS), and dermatomyositis/polymyositis.


It is estimated that approximately 7.6% to 9.4% of the global population is affected by various types of autoimmune diseases. These diseases are challenging to cure, and once diagnosed, most patients require long-term or even lifelong treatment. Furthermore, some diseases, such as lupus nephritis, can be life-threatening and severely impact the quality of life for affected individuals. In the United States alone, around 50 million people, which accounts for 20% or one-fifth of the population, suffer from autoimmune diseases. Among them, approximately 75% are women. Autoimmune diseases have become the third most prevalent chronic disease, following cardiovascular diseases and cancer.


The rising prevalence of autoimmune diseases underscores the need for improved diagnosis, treatment, and management strategies to lessen the burden on patients and healthcare systems. Early and accurate diagnosis, such as utilizingin vitro testing for disease-specific autoantibodies, is of the utmost importance. Treatment options typically include medication to manage symptoms, control inflammation, and suppress the abnormal immune response. Lifestyle modifications, such as exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and adequate rest, can also contribute to disease management.