Awareness of sarcoidosis is critical in African-American community
4/12/2019, 6 a.m.
April is National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month and Saturday, April 13, is “Shine a Light Day” on this rare disease. From VCU Health Systems in Richmond to Niagara Falls in Canada to the One Trade Center in New York City to some Mayo Clinics to bridges and buildings across America — all will be illuminated in purple.
Sarcoidosis affects the lungs in 90 percent of the cases, with the skin being the second most affected organ. But it can also affect the heart, eyes, brain or liver.
While the disease is more common in Sweden, the largest number of sarcoidosis cases in the United States are in the Southeast, with the disease being most common among African-Americans. It affects women more than men, making African-American women the highest number of sarcoidosis patients. African-Americans also tend to experience greater severity in symptoms and chronicity.
Sarcoidosis is a difficult disease to diagnose because the symptoms mirror other diseases. A simple cough may not seem threatening but may be a sign of sarcoidosis.
I hope many of our community institutions will educate people about sarcoidosis in the African-American community. I am grateful to Dr. Justin M. Haught at VCU Health for his expertise and exceptional services in helping me overcome this dreadful disease. After many years of struggle with lupus pernio, a skin disorder and manifestation of sarcoidosis that is common among African-Americans, it was Dr. Haught with VCU Dermatology who was able to cure my lupus pernio in less than a year.
Skin disorders rarely kill but they can force one to change their normal activities to avoid a constant explanation of their condition. For a long time, I avoided the mirror, but today I can stare in it and smile.
I am thankful to Dr. Haught’s knowledge about lupus pernio and my other deficiency that helped me regain my ability to lead a normal and healthy life.
ZARINA M. FAZALDIN