Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a genetic blood disorder that affects approximately 100,000 Americans and while it is especially prevalent in the African American community, it affects all ethnicities. The disease causes red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, to take on a sickled shape which can then get clotted in blood vessels. This results in a lack of blood flow to some tissue which can eventually become damaged and causes severe pain to the person suffering from the disease. Presently, the life expectancy of an individual with SCD is 48 years, which is a significant increase since the 1960s when the average life span of a SCD patient was around 20 years. However, recent case studies have shown individuals with SCD living up to 86 years. While no cure for SCD has been discovered, blood transfusion and various medications can help to alleviate its symptoms. Therefore, the SCD community could greatly benefit from more research into lengthening the life expectancy of those with SCD as well as working toward finding a permanent cure for the disease.
Whereas SCD is the presence of two defective genes, Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) is the presence of a single defective gene and does not cause the same symptoms of SCD. Nearly 2 million people in the US and over 100 million people worldwide possess the Sickle Cell Trait. Since SCD is genetically inherited, if both parents possess the SCT, there is a 25% chance that their child will be born with SCD. Additionally, when exposed to extreme conditions such as high intensity exercise or high and low altitudes where there is a decrease in oxygen levels, individuals with SCT can experience symptoms of SCD. Therefore, awareness of SCT is essential to educate individuals about and help to prevent the spread of SCD.
- To raise awareness for Sickle Cell Anemia and Sickle Cell Trait by increasing the visibility of the disease on social media.
- To increase the number of blood and bone marrow donations to patients suffering from Sickle Cell Disease.
- To raise money for Sickle Cell Disease research performed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute through a nationwide Walk to End Sickle Cell Disease.
While the intention of this campaign is to spread global awareness of SCD and SCT through social media platforms, the specific audience of this campaign will be targeted toward college aged students. This is because young adults who wish to procreate should be aware of the risks of mating when SCT and SCD are involved. However, this plan is intended to be utilized by other organizations across the country and across the globe who also wish to spread awareness about SCD and work toward finding a permanent cure to the disease. It is the hope of this campaign that various campuses and cities will participate in their own Walks to End Sickle Cell Anemia as well as their own Bone Marrow and Blood Drives to localize awareness for SCD while simultaneously engaging in a universal conversation over Facebook and Twitter.