Autoimmune Diseases


Autoimmune and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases are chronic issues that are caused by a person’s immune system mistakenly attacking the body’s own healthy tissues and organs. The resulting inflammation and damage can affect almost any part of the body – from the joints and skin to the lungs and kidneys. The rate of autoimmune diseases in the United States are rising, and 80% of patients diagnosed are women. Sex and hormones also play an important role in the influence of symptom manifestation and severity. There are more than 80 autoimmune diseases – none of which has a cure. As a result, treatment focuses on managing symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease as much as possible. For women, who experience different types and severity of symptoms, responses to treatments, and have different needs than men, identifying effective treatments and eliminating barriers to accessing care are critical to improving disproportionate disease burden and health outcomes.

Autoimmune Diseases are part of the SWHR Autoimmune Network, which engages the following focus areas: Autoimmune Diseases, Alopecia Areata, Atopic Dermatitis, Lupus, and Psoriatic Arthritis.

Program Goals

  • Review the state of the science and explore the best means to further research and develop more effective outreach, diagnosis, and treatment strategies for women living with autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases
  • Consider policies that affect disparities and access to care and propose recommendations for patient-centered health care policies to improve health outcomes for diverse populations of women
  • Develop educational materials to raise awareness about autoimmune and immune-mediated diseases among women, health care providers, and policymakers

Facts about Autoimmune Diseases

23.5 million

people in the United States are estimated to have an autoimmune disease


of patients diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women

$100 billion

in treatment costs annually

More about Autoimmune Diseases