Lupus in Africa: can we dispel the myths and face the challenges?

Lupus. 2014;23(1):102-11. doi: 10.1177/0961203313509296. Epub 2013 Oct 30.


The epidemiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Africa is largely undetermined, and the perception persists that the incidence of SLE on the continent is very low. Recent studies as well as our own experience, however, suggest that this is not the case. We have conducted a survey amongst medical practitioners in Africa to determine their experiences of diagnosing and treating SLE patients, and the results suggest that significant numbers of African patients are presenting with SLE. The apparent low incidence rate in Africa may be the result of underdiagnosis due to poor access to health care, low disease recognition within primary health care settings, limited access to diagnostic tools and inadequate numbers of specialist physicians. Treatment of SLE in Africa is also restricted by availability and affordability of immunosuppressive drugs. We have established the African Lupus Genetics Network (ALUGEN), an informal network of clinicians and researchers in Africa who have an interest in SLE, in order to facilitate combined clinical and research efforts towards improved outcomes for African SLE patients.

Keywords: ALUGEN; Africa; SLE; Systemic lupus erythematosus; lupus; lupus nephritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Community Networks*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy