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Lupus (SLE) is a very rare condition with symptoms ranging from mild to very severe. Many people experience flare-ups, where their symptoms become worse, in between long periods where symptoms are mild or disappear altogether (remission), when a person may not need treatment. Lupus is normally diagnosed in hospital.

The following data are estimated from patients consulting general practice with an active problem of lupus over a year.

How common is lupus in the UK?

Lupus is more common in women than men, with around seven times as many women as men having the condition. It's more common in some ethnic groups, particularly those of African origin.

 Group Prevalence UK estimate 
 Males  0.01%  3,000
 Females  0.071%  21,900
 All  0.041%  24,700


Occurence of lupus in the UK by age and gender


 Age group Prevalence UK estimate 
 10–19  2  70
 20–29  4  160
 30–39  10  430
 40–49  9  370
 50–59  17  650
 60–69  20  570
 70–79  26  500
 80+  4  40


 Age group Prevalence UK estimate 
 10–19  11 400 
 20–29  39  1,530
 30–39  76  3,310
 40–49  98  4,340
 50–59  140  5,340
 60–69  120  3,650
 70–79  85  2,010
 80+  34  610



1.    Nightingale AL, Farmer RD, de Vries CS. Systemic lupus erythematosus prevalence in the UK: methodological issues when using the General Practice Research Database to estimate frequency of chronic relapsing-remitting disease. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2007; 16(2):144–51.

Lupus (SLE)


Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your body's own tissues. It can cause inflammation in many different parts of your body.

Lupus: a special report

George Plumptre

Two years ago former Times gardening correspondent George Plumptre donated a kidney to his brother Francis, when lupus caused his kidneys to fail. Now chief executive of the National Gardens Scheme, which made Arthritis Research UK its guest charity in 2010–11, he tells how his donation transformed his brother’s life.

For more information, go to or call 0800 389 6692 to order the complete printed booklet.
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