HARTFORD, CT – August 5, 2011 – Lupus Research Institute (LRI) Board member and Connecticut resident Hope Hetherington and her husband Representative John Hetherington joined with LRI and other advocacy groups to pass important legislation signed by Governor Dannel Molloy today benefitting the estimated 17,000 people in Connecticut affected by lupus, a serious and chronic autoimmune disease.
Representative Hetherington supported House Bill No. 6481, AAC The Establishment of a Lupus Education and Awareness Plan addressing the need for greater understanding and prevention of lupus, a disease affecting over 1.5 million Americans, 90% of whom are women and especially women of color. As a long-time advocate and member of the Lupus Research Institute Board of Directors, Mrs. Hetherington testified at the public hearing on the bill, emphasizing the need for state legislators to develop lupus education activities reflecting LRI initiatives achieved at the federal level.
“The LRI’s advocacy work in Washington succeeded in generating federal funding for the recently established Lupus Initiative to educate healthcare professionals and patients about the disease and to reduce racial and gender disparities nationwide,” said Mrs. Hetherington. “On behalf of lupus patients, I am very proud to have helped bring lupus education to my home state. Some of the country’s top lupus investigators right here in Connecticut are pursuing innovative lupus research thanks to nearly $2,000,000 in grants from the Lupus Research Institute.”
How the Bill Will Help CT Residents
The new bill establishes an Inter-agency and Partnership Advisory Panel on Lupus within Connecticut’s Department of Public Health. The legislation stipulates that the panel be comprised of several appointed representatives from government and patient groups including a state resident representing the Lupus Research Institute.
The panel will analyze the current state of lupus education in Connecticut to identify gaps. By 2012, they will develop a comprehensive plan to broaden awareness of the disease among health care practitioners, public health personnel and patients.
Addressing a Serious Need
Both John and Hope Hetherington were committed to passing the legislation to help women like her sister who lost a 25-year battle with lupus at age 50. “This bill takes a huge step forward for people with lupus and those yet to be diagnosed. With enhanced education, lupus can be better recognized, treated and studied.”