Press Release

Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Wednesday, 10 May 2023 - 4:08pm

Chief Nursing Officer Ms. Jacinth Hannibal is encouraging persons living with Lupus to know more about the disease as the Virgin Islands observe World Lupus Day today May 10.

Ms. Hannibal said this year’s theme, ‘Make Lupus Visible’ is very important as it speaks to the number of persons who are suffering with the disease and who may not know it, as well as persons battling the disease in silence.

According to the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), persons living with Lupus can live full and healthy lives once empowered with information. “I would like persons to have as much appropriate and accurate information as they can have about Lupus.  The more you know, the better you are to live well and you can live for a very long time with Lupus,” she said

Ms. Hannibal stated that Lupus is not an automatic drop-dead situation.  “If you take care of yourself, avoid your triggers and take your medications then you can live for a very long time in most cases,” the CNO cautioned.

 “We want to encourage the establishment of a support group for person living with Lupus in the Territory as emotional support is instrumental in living with Lupus,” Ms. Hannibal said, adding, “A support group can provide a safe forum to share experiences and coping mechanisms for the best practice management of the disease.”

Lupus is a disease that occurs when a person’s body immune system attacks its own tissues and organs (autoimmune disease).  Inflammation caused by Lupus can affect many different body systems, including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.

While Lupus can strike anyone at any time, 90% of people living with Lupus are females between the ages of 15 and 44. Common symptoms include:

  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Headaches and hair loss
  • Mouth or nose ulcers
  • Butterfly shaped rashes across cheeks and nose
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Sunlight sensitivity
  • Swelling  in feet, legs, hand and around the eyes
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Fever and extreme fatigue

Common Lupus triggers include sunlight, stress, viruses, illnesses, pregnancy and childbirth.

For more information about the formation of a Lupus support group contact Ms. Hannibal at 1-284-468-2282.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to improving the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.


Natasha Lettsome-Humphrey

Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Telephone: 468-2286