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A lupus awareness and educational program from the American College of Rheumatology

Learn the differentials to eliminate the disparities by recognizing, diagnosing and treating lupus in a culturally competent manner.


The Lupus Initiative® (TLI), a national program of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), is dedicated to providing tools and resources to healthcare providers, from general practitioners and medical specialists to nurse practitioners and school nurses. TLI’s robust offering includes continuing medical education, patient materials, interactive case studies, videos, presentations, and more. By helping healthcare providers recognize who is most at risk for lupus and make appropriate referrals to rheumatologists, TLI aims to improve health prospects for people with undiagnosed lupus.

About Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus, referred to as SLE or lupus, is an inflammatory, multisystem, autoimmune disease. It is of unknown etiology with protean clinical and laboratory manifestations and a variable course and prognosis. It is sometimes called the “great imitator,” because the diversity of clinical symptoms in SLE is great and all organ systems are vulnerable. Lupus can affect many parts of the body including the skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, and brain. The disease is characterized by periods of flare and remission and can culminate in irreversible end-organ damage.

While an early diagnosis improves quality of life and patient outcomes, receiving a lupus diagnosis can be a difficult and timely process. Therefore, it is vital for healthcare providers to know how to recognize, refer, diagnosis, and/or treat clinical manifestations of lupus. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the disease is now more manageable than in years past, allowing people affected by lupus to live full, productive lives.

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Take the initiative.

Know the differentials to eliminate the disparities.

Do you know the differentials for how to recognize and diagnosis lupus in a culturally competent manner? Take our complimentary CME/MOC activities to help eliminate health disparities for people living with lupus.

Health Disparities

Health disparities are the differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of disease (and other adverse health conditions) that exist among specific populations and demographics. In the case of systemic lupus erythematosus, clinical manifetations indicate a difference in disease prevalence based on race, ethnicity and gender:

  • Black women are 3 times more likely to develop lupus than White women.
  • Women are 9 times more likely to develop lupus than men.
  • Hispanic, Asian, and Native American populations are also more likely to develop lupus and at a younger age.
  • Specific racial/ethnic minorities with lupus have mortality rates at least 3 times as high as White individuals.

Studies have found susceptibility genes that are common in multiple racial/ethnic groups and research is ongoing to understand differences in genetic risk factors across populations. However, socioeconomic disparities in lupus incidence and outcomes strongly suggest that factors beyond genetics or innate biology underlie health disparities. Rather, studies suggest biologic mechanisms that contribute to health disparities are influenced by a complex interplay of socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental factors. Considering the complexity of these factors, reducing lupus-related health disparties requires broad and multidisciplinary solutions at the individual, community, healthcare system, and population levels.

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For Patients and Supporters

Self-Management Tools & Resources.

Help people affected by lupus better understand and manage the disease with lupus with self-management resources including videos, guides, plans and more.

Featured Tools

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Lupus Series: Virtual Clinic

A no-cost, case-based education series consisting of four learning activities designed to help non-rheumatologists recognize, refer and manage patients with lupus in conjunction with a rheumatologist. Learners virtually examine four patients, each presenting with different symptoms, decide which labs to order, build the differential diagnosis and decide next steps for treating the patient, including appropriate referrals, if needed.


Lupus & Pregnancy: Virtual Clinic

Based on the 2020 ACR Guideline for the Management of Reproductive Health in Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases, this case allows you to work with a new patient living with lupus as she navigates multiple appointments and changes to her reproductive health and childbearing timeline. Utilizing information about her lupus history, decide which forms of contraception are recommended before pregnancy and whether to modify medications during pregnancy and post-partum.


Featured Program

Clinical Trial Program

Materials to Increase Minority Involvement in Clinical Trials (MIMICT)

Robust clinical trial research leads to innovative treatment options, but minorities often lack awareness and access to these clinical trial opportunities. As a healthcare provider, you can increase minority involvement in clinical trials by referring patients to clinical trials as part of their treatment options. Providers and patients face apprehension about discussing clinical trial opportunities and enrolling in clinical trials. MIMICT engages and equips providers to overcome barriers to making clinical trial referrals. By creating collaborative opportunities for clinical trial sites and healthcare providers, MIMICT delivers accurate, trusted and understandable information that enables people with lupus to make informed decisions about participating in clinical trials.

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Featured Programs

School Nurse Programs

Given the criticality of continued care for persons with lupus, ACR wants to assist school nurses to support students, their families, and the student’s health care team in caring for the student with lupus by providing these useful resources. We are pleased to assist you in meeting your students’ needs by providing you with two plans: Guidance to Caring for Students with Lupus (Care Plan) and Guidance to Independent Self-Care for Students with Lupus (Transition Plan). These plans were designed by ACR, in conjunction with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) with funding provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The care plans included in this package were designed by experts and tested with school nurses to provide support and care for students living with lupus.

Guidance to Caring for Students with Lupus (Care Plan)

When a parent or child learns of a diagnosis of lupus, it can be very frightening. However, by understanding the disease and working closely with the student’s healthcare team to establish a customized Care Plan, you can help the student learn self-care, cope with the disease, and live a normal life.


Guidance to Independent Self-Care for Students with Lupus

A Transition Plan helps you assist your students with lupus to make a smooth transition to independent management of their condition as they transition from child-centered care to adult healthcare. This means working with teens and young adults and their families to help them prepare for adult healthcare.

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