Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Releases Joint Statement after the House passed H.R. 1301, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2017

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Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

“I am proud to join with my fellow co-chairs of the Congressional Lupus Caucus, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), William R. Keating (D-MA), and Thomas Rooney (R-FL), to help meet the needs of individuals living with lupus,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “Lupus is an unpredictable and misunderstood disease in which the immune system is out of balance, causing damage to any organ system in the body. More research is necessary to better understand this disease. Without sufficient funding, research into the cause of lupus and the discovery of new treatments will be severely delayed. With the establishment of this Lupus Research Program within the Defense Health Programs, we can gain valuable insight into this devastating disease.”

“The fight against lupus is a cause near and dear to my heart, having lost my cousin Kathleen to the disease,” said Congressman Rooney. “With 1.5 million Americans living with lupus, this funding is a critical step to further research and treatment development efforts to help improve the quality of life for all people affected by lupus. It is my hope that this funding benefits the lupus community and helps to one day find a cure.”

“The Congressional Lupus Caucus is a proud champion for members of our communities living with this debilitating disease, and I am honored to be a co-chair,” said Congressman Keating. “The Caucus will keep fighting for additional funds to support lupus research and education as we take this positive step towards a cure.

“As the co-chair of the Lupus caucus, I’m very pleased that that the Lupus Medical Research Program is included in the Defense Appropriations Act,” said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen. “This measure will help provide essential relief to the community of patients who often wait years to reach a positive diagnosis and whose lives have been affected by Lupus. It is my hope that increased research and awareness, will get us closer to that one day no one will be diagnosed with Lupus.”

About 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus. Even though this disease can strike men and women of all ages, 90 percent of its victims are women. Lupus affects minority women two to three times as much as white women. Statistics from 2011 indicate that among active duty enlisted women, minority representation is very high: 47 percent are minorities compared to 22 percent of the civilian population. Furthermore, 31 percent of active duty enlisted women are African American, but are less than 15 percent of the general population. African Americans are among those most at risk for lupus. Their disease begins earlier in life and is generally more severe.  More than 90 percent of active duty military personnel are age 17-40, which are the prime years in which lupus strikes (15-44). Approximately 11,000 women with lupus, active duty personnel and dependents, receive care through the DoD healthcare system and that number has been increasing in these last five years.