Staying in the Loop on Lupus: Congresswoman Maxine Waters, I Choose Life Foundation, LaDifference Hair Salon, and Jumo Health

Congresswoman Maxine Waters and The Ladies of LaDifference Hair Salon Staying in the Loop on Lupus
By Dina McKinnie

LaDifference Hair Salon opened its doors to I Choose Life Foundation (ICLF) and Jumo Health to bring a message to Black women and Black Angelinos about the importance of the Black community getting involved in clinical trials to address Lupus. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that affects mostly Black women. Research has shown that if you have lupus, your risk is higher for other health problems that are common in women, such as heart disease and osteoporosis. It is difficult to know how many people in the United States have lupus, because the symptoms are different for every person. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have lupus and about 9 out of 10 diagnoses of lupus are in women ages 15 to 44 of which 90% are Black women.  

Black women are three times more likely to get lupus than White women. Black women and Hispanic women usually get lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms, which include kidney problems, seizures, strokes, and dangerous swelling of the heart. Researchers think that genes play a major role in how lupus affects Black women and other women of color. “I lost my oldest sister to Lupus, and I have a number of friends that are dealing with Lupus, and I know no better tribute to my sister’s life and legacy than to join these ladies to not only talk about the importance of doing all we can to get involved in clinical trials, but to also encourage their families and friends to get involved. I believe this is the best way that we can help to find a cure for this disease.” said Pauline Shorters.

Lupus is a great imitator. Did you know that lupus can show up in the forum of heart disease, which raises the risk of the most common type of heart disease called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is partly because people with lupus have more CAD risk factors, which include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Lupus can cause inflammation (swelling), which also increases the risk for CAD. Women with lupus may be less active because of fatigue, joint problems, and muscle pain, and this also puts them at risk for heart disease.

In one study among Black women with lupus, it was found that these women were 50 times more likely to have chest pain and/or a heart attack. More than half of all people with lupus have kidney problems, called lupus nephritis. Kidney problems often begin within the first five years after lupus symptoms start to appear. This is one of the more serious complications of lupus. Also, kidney inflammation is not usually painful, so you don’t know when it’s happening. That is why it’s important for people with lupus to get regular urine and blood tests for kidney disease. Treatment for lupus nephritis works best if caught early.  

Congresswoman Maxine Waters took time out of her busy day to stop by the salon to encourage the ladies to take control of their health and that it’s time that the Black community become proactive in getting involved in clinical trials and research. A recent analysis showed that the participation in clinical trials by subpopulation for new molecular entities and therapeutic biologics approved in 2020 was 56% females, 75% Whites, 8% Black African Americans, 6% Asians, 11% Hispanics, 30% age 65 and older, and 54% of the participants were in the United States. “Only 8% Black participation, we have got to do better”, said Congresswoman Waters.

Understanding the history that Black people have regarding the medical community, we must also understand that Black people have hundreds of brilliant Black physicians and researchers all over this country, sitting at the table of the development of medications, treatments, clinical trials, as well as research. With brilliant Black doctors at the table of medicine, we can be assured that Black people are treated fairly, equally and with dignity and respect. “Black people, we’ve got to have faith, that we can, will and have the power to reshape the way that our people view health and medicine:, said Tony Wafford, President and CEO of I Choose Life Foundation. Mary McLeod Bethune said it best, “Faith is the factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible, with it nothing is impossible.” I have faith that we can end Lupus in Black America. Are you ready to help save lives? For more information go to and check to see if you or one of your loved ones are eligible to participate in a clinical trial for lupus. Remember to click the “accept cookies” button to receive the best possible trial matches in your area!