AB: In one sentence: Celiac disease is serious and all biological relatives of those diagnosed – not just immediate family members – need to know they are at risk and that a simple blood test can screen for the condition.
I want those diagnosed with celiac disease to feel empowered when using the campaign’s “Talk, Tell, Test” approach. We hope they will:
- Talk with family members to make them aware that celiac disease runs in families, and emphasize the importance that getting screened will have on their overall future health.
- Tell family members the facts about celiac disease. It’s an autoimmune disease, which is different than a food allergy and means the immune system is attacking its healthy cells. Since most people don’t have any symptoms, proper testing, diagnosis and disease management are essential to decrease their chances of developing long-term complications of celiac disease, such as cancer.
- Urge family members to get a simple blood test. This is the first step in learning if someone has celiac disease. Depending on the results, a biopsy of the small intestine to check for damage may be ordered by the physician following the blood test.
Any final words for readers who will start speaking to extended family?
AB: Yes. NFCA’s research found that family members are not likely to take action and pursue testing if the “Seriously, Celiac Disease” video and downloadable tools are shared with them electronically. Relatives want an in-person, one-on-one conversation – not an online discussion.
It’s important that those diagnosed take the time to read the research-tested “Dos and Don’ts” guide before initiating the conversation.
We do encourage social media sharing among those already diagnosed, so they can start their own offline conversations (using the hashtag #TalkTellTest).
Finally, the celiac disease community, bloggers, media and the science community have been incredible in raising awareness of “Seriously, Celiac Disease”, and I am so grateful for the support and recognition that celiac disease is, in fact, a serious genetic autoimmune disease.
Seriously, Celiac Disease Campaign links: