Senator LORETTA WEINBERG
District 37 (Bergen)
Designates June of each year as “Scleroderma Awareness Month.”
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
A Joint Resolution designating June of each year as “Scleroderma Awareness Month.”
Whereas, Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, is a chronic connective tissue disease, generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases, in which the body's soft tissues contract and harden due to an overproduction of collagen, and which in certain cases can be disabling and even fatal; and
Whereas, Hardening of the skin is one of the most visible manifestations of the disease; however, it may be found in a variety of forms among patients and can affect many areas of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, and gastrointestinal system; and
Whereas, The effects of scleroderma can range from very mild to life-threatening, depending on which parts of the body are affected and the extent to which they are affected; however, a mild case can become more serious if not properly treated, and prompt and proper diagnosis and treatment by qualified physicians may minimize the symptoms of scleroderma and lessen the chance for irreversible damage from the disease; and
Whereas, The diagnosis of scleroderma is difficult because it presents with symptoms similar to other autoimmune diseases; diagnosing the disease may require consultation with a rheumatologist or dermatologist, or both, and entail blood studies and numerous other specialized tests, depending upon which organs are affected; and
Whereas, An estimated 300,000 people in the United States have scleroderma, about one-third of whom have the systemic form of it; and
Whereas, Localized scleroderma is more common in children, while systemic scleroderma is more common in adults, but the disease is found in every age group from infants to the elderly, with its onset occurring most frequently between the ages of 25 to 55; female patients outnumber male patients by about four-to-one, and the average age at diagnosis is in the forties; and
Whereas, Factors other than sex, such as race and ethnic background, may influence the risk of getting scleroderma, the age of onset, and the pattern or severity of internal organ involvement; although scleroderma is not directly inherited, some scientists feel there is a slight predisposition to it in families with a history of rheumatic diseases; and
Whereas, The exact causes of scleroderma are unknown, but scientists and medical investigators in a wide variety of fields are working hard to make those determinations; and
Whereas, Most persons with scleroderma do not have any relatives with the disease and their children do not get scleroderma; research findings indicate that a susceptibility gene increases the likelihood of a person developing the disease but, by itself, does not cause the disease; and
Whereas, Currently, there is no cure for scleroderma, but there are many treatments available; and, because there is so much variation from one person to another in the form of the disease, there is great variation in the treatments prescribed; and
Whereas, Some treatments for scleroderma are directed at particular symptoms such as heartburn, which can be controlled by medications called proton pump inhibitors or medicine to improve the motion of the bowel, and some treatments are directed at decreasing the activity of the immune system; some persons with a mild form of the disease may not need medication at all, and occasionally patients are able to stop treatment when their scleroderma is no longer active; and
Whereas, It is in the public interest to educate New Jerseyans about scleroderma in order to enhance their understanding of the disease and their support for those who suffer from it and their families, and to encourage increased research and funding that will improve treatment and discover the cause and cure for the disease; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. The month of June in each year is designated as “Scleroderma Awareness Month” in order to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of this disease and encourage public understanding of the disease and support for those persons who are coping with it.
2. The Governor shall annually issue a proclamation calling upon public officials, health care professionals, and the citizens of this State to observe the month with appropriate activities and programs designed to raise public awareness of this disease.
3. This joint resolution shall take effect immediately.
This joint resolution designates June of each year as “Scleroderma Awareness Month.”
The resolution directs the Governor to annually issue a proclamation calling upon public officials, health care professionals, and the citizens of this State to observe the month with appropriate activities and programs designed to raise public awareness of this disease.