Last week, the online community suffered two losses.  Karyn Washington, founder of the blog For Brown Girls, died of an apparent suicide and Domineque Banks, a popular natural hair vlogger died  lost her battle with lupus on April 9. She was 27.

Banks, also known as  “Longhairdontcare2011”  on YouTube, started documenting her hair health in 2004, due in part to her illness. She used her tail-bone length hair as not only a testament to her health, but also to give advice to other natural haired women. She regularly contributed articles to blackgirllonghair.com and the online hair forum Black Hair Media.

From BlackGirlLongHair:

According to her personal friend Macy Jimenez, Domineque had been a longtime sufferer of lupus, and had in recent months taken a turn for the worse. On the night of April 7 Domineque fell out of consciousness and later in the hospital was placed on life support. She passed away on the afternoon of April 9 after suffering a heart attack. Domineque is survived by her partner, sister, and a host of friends and family.

Currently, Domineque’s family is aiming to raise $10,000 to help with funeral and cremation costs, along with flights to California for her sister and nephew who cannot afford the travel expenses. So far, the GiveForward fundraiser has raised over $5,300. If you would like to make a donation, please click here.

Recent studies show that Black women are at a higher risk of having lupus than any other ethnic group. Researchers at Emory University  and the University of Michigan found that Black women not only disproportionately suffer from this disease, but have been diagnosed at a younger age with higher rates of severe complications such as kidney failure compared to white women.

“Black women had very high rates of lupus, with an incidence rate in Georgia nearly three times higher than that for white women, with significantly high rates in the 30-39 age group,” says principal investigator, S. Sam Lim, associate professor of rheumatology at Emory University School of Medicine in a press release.

Lim adds, “These are young women in the prime of their careers, family and fertility. This means a severely compromised future with a disease that waxes and wanes, affecting every aspect of daily living for the rest of their lives.”

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the  skin, joints and organs. Normally, one’s immune system fights off infections, viruses and germs by creating antibodies to protect from such “invaders” by attacking them. But with lupus, your immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy tissues or invaders so they attack indiscriminately, destroying the healthy tissue too.

Currently there is no cure for the disease, but there are a plethora of treatment options. 

Read about the risks of the disease on Black women here. If you want information on testing, start here.

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