To inform and make people aware of this auto-immune disease

Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE) is an auto-immune condition that causes various tissues in the body to become inflamed. Lupus is one of a number of auto-immune illnesses, which means that instead of the person’s immune system producing antibodies to fight and destroy disease-causing bacteria or viruses, it mistakenly attacks their perfectly healthy body tissues. Lupus can be mild or life-threatening depending on which tissues are affected. Lupus can occur in any susceptible person of either sex at any age and its cause is unknown.
Lupus can affect any part of the body
Any part of the body can become inflamed, for example:

* Joint inflammation will cause pain and swelling.
* Skin inflammation may cause a rash, body and mouth ulcers or hair loss.
* Inflammation of a major organ like the kidney may change the way the kidney functions and require dialysis or a transplant.

Lupus can cause a range of symptoms
A host of different symptoms can occur, but one individual is unlikely to have all of them. The symptoms may include:

* Joint or muscle pain
* Fever (often low grade)
* Mouth ulcers
* Chest pain
* Extreme tiredness
* Skin rash
* Hair loss
* Sunlight sensitivity
* Kidney problems
* Clotting problems
* Seizures
* Unexplained headaches, migraines or mood swings.

The cause is unknown
Lupus isn’t contagious. There is a genetic component, yet the cause is unknown. Most commonly, it appears in women of child-bearing age. It affects one in 700 Australians. There are more than 5000 lupus sufferers in Victoria. More people have lupus than AIDS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis combined.

Early diagnosis is important
Lupus is diagnosed by clinical features and the presence of certain antibodies in the blood. Usually a period of high lupus activity (a flare) is followed by a period of remission. It is most important to have diagnosis as soon as possible after the appearance of symptoms, because internal organs can be scarred if targeted by the disease. There is no way to cure or prevent lupus, but the disease and its symptoms can be controlled.

Type of help available
Medications may be used to treat the symptoms. These may include:

* Creams or ointments
* Cortisone injections
* Oral Plaquenal
* Corticosteroids
* Immunosuppressants.
Where to get help
For information and referral, contact:

* Your doctor
* A specialist (often a dermatologist, rheumatologist, nephrologist or immunologist)
* Lupus Australia Foundation Inc. Tel: (03) 9650 5348.

Things to remember

* Lupus is an auto-immune disease that can be mild or life-threatening
* The symptoms vary, depending on which tissues in the body are targeted
* There is no cure, but lupus and its symptoms can be controlled with medication.

1. Lupus (SLE) can occur in any susceptible person of either sex at any age and its cause is unknown.

2. To be aware of this auto-immune disease

3. To help spread the word through Australia as there aren't a lot of areas concerning this disease

4. To make the public aware