Supporters Urged to Wear Red for World Sickle Cell Day on June 19

From sporting red gear to entering a spoken word contest, supporters globally are poised to mark World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, an annual event that takes place on June 19.

The goal is to heighten awareness of sickle cell disease (SCD), an inherited blood disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide, including about 100,000 people in the U.S. Advocates hope to use the day to better educate the general public, government policymakers, public authorities, industry representatives, scientists, and healthcare professionals about the disease.

Awareness and recognition are vital to increasing understanding and improving the diagnosis and management of SCD, according to organizations such as the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA).

The SCDAA has several events planned to mark this year’s World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, including its first “Lift Every Voice to Shine the Light on Sickle Cell” spoken word contest, sponsored in part by Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT). For the event, which seeks to elevate community voices, U.S. patients and caregivers were invited to submit original spoken word pieces about their experiences with SCD.

The contest is being presented by Sickle Cell Speaks, a GBT education campaign that aims to feature real-life patient stories in an effort to overcome stigmas and clear up misconceptions about SCD. For each submission received, GBT has pledged it will donate $100 to the SCDAA, up to a total of $5,000.

The contest winner and finalists will be featured in virtual events held June 18–19 on the Sickle Cell Speaks Facebook and Instagram pages. The contest winner also will be featured in a GBT event at the SCDAA’s annual convention this fall.

Also on June 19, the multi-state collaborative SiNERGē — Sickle Cell Improvement Across the Northeast Region Through Education — will team up with the SCDAA to present a 24-hour-long event. As part of “Shine the Light on Sickle Cell,” community members throughout the world will host local gatherings over a 24-hour period to call attention to SCD and the needs of those who live with the disease. Participants are invited to post about their event on the Shine the Light Facebook page.

In addition to these initiatives, the SCDAA is urging people to mark this annual event by making blood donations to support those with SCD. Some of these blood donation initiatives can be found on the organization’s website.

In the U.K., the Sickle Cell Society is providing a wide range of shareable graphics and social media posts — with key facts about SCD — among supporters to raise awareness of the disease. The nonprofit organization also is asking supporters on June 19 to don the color red — the official color for SCD — to raise awareness of the condition.

“Wearing red is a great starting place for conversations about sickle cell and can be a great entryway into raising awareness,” the organization states on its webpage.

In addition, the society is offering ways to raise funds to support its efforts to help patients and their families. It also is hosting a virtual talent show for young patients, ages 5–17.

A countdown clock on the page is ticking off the time until the annual awareness day kicks off.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is featuring the stories of sickle cell patients on its website. This year, the CDC is encouraging people with SCD to participate in the Sickle Cell Data Collection (SCDC) program and to give blood.