SOURCE: Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation

Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation

April 25, 2013 08:00 ET

Venus Williams Steps Up for Sjogren's Awareness

BETHESDA, MD--(Marketwired - Apr 25, 2013) - The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation (SSF) is excited to announce Venus Williams as the Honorary Chairperson of our Carroll Petrie Foundation Sjogren's Awareness Ambassador Program. "Venus' willingness to share her story makes her a great Awareness Ambassador. Her courage gives hope to many patients who live silently with Sjogren's because of the lack of awareness around this disease. The SSF is thrilled to have her leading the charge," said Steven Taylor, SSF CEO.

Sjogren's ("SHOW-grins") is a systemic disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture producing glands. The hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, but fatigue, muscle and joint pain are also prominent symptoms. Serious manifestations can occur, such as life-threatening lung involvement, central nervous system complications and disorders of cognitive functioning. Nine out of ten patients are women with an average age of onset in the early 40s. However, Sjogren's can occur in all age groups, even in children.

Sjogren's is the second most prevalent autoimmune disorder, striking as many as 4 million Americans with an estimated 3 million cases currently undiagnosed. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for preventing complications with Sjogren's. Unfortunately, reaching a diagnosis is often difficult and has been found to take an average of over 4.7 years from the onset of symptoms. Only when Sjogren's is recognized as a serious disease will patients receive the care needed.

Venus, like many Sjogren's patients, struggled with getting a proper diagnosis, which is why she wanted to be a voice for Sjogren's. Awareness Ambassadors help to educate their community and local medical professionals about Sjogren's and are the front lines for helping the Foundation achieve our 5-Year Breakthrough Goal: "To shorten the time to diagnose Sjogren's by 50% in 5 years."

Venus hopes you will step up for Sjogren's Awareness! "By becoming an Awareness Ambassador, you will be helping to increase awareness of Sjogren's -- a very important cause I have been working on since I was diagnosed in 2011. Please join with me as we make a difference in how Sjogren's is perceived in both the medical field and general public." -- Venus Williams

The SSF wants to recognize The Carroll Petrie Foundation whose generous grant, supporting the Awareness Ambassador program, will allow us to provide the materials needed to increase awareness in communities across the United States.

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