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What Is World Sickle Cell Day?

World Sickle Cell Day is celebrated on June 19 every year. Established in 2008 by the United Nations General Assembly, World Sickle Cell Day acknowledges sickle cell disease as a public health concern and one of the leading genetic diseases.

Spreading awareness about sickle cell disease is important because it provides support for an underfunded and underresearched condition. By increasing knowledge around sickle cell disease, you can make a difference in the lives of sickle cell patients and their families.

What is sickle cell disease?

Sickle cell disease is a group of genetic red blood cell disorders. Sickle cell disease, including HBSS or sickle cell anemia, HbD, HbE, HbO, Hbβ-thalassemia, and HBsC, occurs when a person receives 2 abnormal genes from their parents.

Sickle cell is known for causing extreme pain. Other common symptoms and complications include fatigue, acute chest syndrome, and infections. It can also negatively impact mental health. Learn more about sickle cell symptoms and complications and how sickle cell disease affects daily life.

Sickle cell can disrupt education, work, and social lives for people living with the disease. However, improving treatments and lifestyle changes may help patients better manage the disease.

What can I do to help?

Do you or does someone you know have sickle cell disease? We came up with a few suggestions for how you can advocate on World Sickle Cell Day.

Wear RED

Many people wear red on sickle cell day to show support and increase awareness about the disease. This is a great way to start conversations and educate others about sickle cell disease.

Share your story

Sharing your story can be scary sometimes. But by doing so, you can help connect people to resources, encourage advocacy, and support other sickle cell warriors. You can share your story in conversations with friends and coworkers or even spread the word on social media.

Know the facts

Myths about sickle cell disease can be harmful to the health and care of those living with the condition. Make sure you know what is true and what is not – you can even share these with friends and family.

Myth:

    • People with sickle cell disease are immune to malaria.

Fact:

    People with sickle cell trait are less likely to have severe forms of malaria

You can learn about other misconceptions about sickle cell on this website.

Donate

As an ally, you can donate blood to help sickle cell warriors who receive transfusions. Blood transfusions are important for people with sickle cell because they reduce the risk of strokes and other complications. Find out where to donate blood with the American Red Cross.

If you are able, you can also donate to support sickle cell research or help patients cover healthcare costs. Before donating, make sure you research the organization using resources like CharityNavigator. This helps you evaluate whether donations are used effectively.

Juneteenth

Did you know that World Sickle Cell Day is the same day as Juneteenth? In the U.S., Juneteenth celebrates and commemorates the end of slavery. Juneteenth was first celebrated in Texas in 1865 when enslaved African Americans learned about their freedom and the end of the Civil War. That same year, the 13th Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude.

Today, Juneteenth is celebrated in festivals, parades, and other events. For many, this day of joy and reflection.

Juneteenth and sickle cell

Many people with sickle cell recognize and experience the impacts of racism on healthcare, treatment options, and access to care that still exists today – almost 170 years after slavery was abolished in the United States. While equity has yet to be achieved, recent acknowledgment of the disparities that exist has led to more research and awareness around sickle cell.

As the most common hematological condition, sickle cell disease deserves the attention, care, and funding of other rare diseases.

What are your June 19 plans?

What are you going to do this day? Celebrate, acknowledge, discuss, spread the word, or something else? Let us know in the comments below!

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