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Preliminary population-based incidence and prevalence estimates of systemic lupus erythematosus: the California Lupus Surveillance Project


Previous estimates of prevalence and incidence of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in the United States have varied widely due to factors such as heterogeneous source populations, limitations with case ascertainment, and differing case definitions. The California Lupus Surveillance Project (CLSP) is part of a national effort funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine more credible estimates of incidence and prevalence of SLE, with a special focus on Hispanics and Asians.


The CLSP is a population-based registry designed to determine the incidence and prevalence of SLE in San Francisco County, CA, USA. Sources of cases included hospitals, rheumatologists, nephrologists, commercial laboratories, and state population databases. These sources were queried for the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9-CM) codes of 710.0 (SLE), 695.4 (discoid lupus), 710.8 (other specified connective tissue disease), and 710.9 (unspecified connective tissue disease). Laboratories were queried for serologic tests including ANA, anti-dsDNA, anti-Smith, antiphospholipid antibodies, and low complement levels. Pathology laboratories were queried for renal and cutaneous biopsies consistent with lupus. Over 15,000 potential SLE patients were identified after the initial queries, and trained abstractors performed detailed medical chart reviews on the >5,500 patients who met the catchment criteria of residence in San Francisco County within the years 2007 to 2009. Cases were defined as patients with documentation of ≥4/11 of the ACR Classification Criteria for SLE. Using SAS 9.3, we calculated prevalence and incidence rates and associated 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Denominators for all rates were obtained from the US Census data (revised 2000 to 2009 intercensal population files) for San Francisco County.


The preliminary overall crude prevalence and incidence of SLE in San Francisco County was 90.4/100,000 and 5.1/100,000 respectively. The highest prevalence of disease was observed in Black women (430.6/100,000), followed by Hispanic and Asian (163.8/100,000 and 158.9/100,000, respectively), and White (111.3/100,000) women (Table 1).

Table 1 Preliminary prevalence and incidence rates (per 100,000) of SLE in San Francisco County, CA, USA


The CLSP uses more complete case finding methods to provide current estimates of prevalence and incidence in a racially and ethnically diverse population. Racial and ethnic disparities in SLE were confirmed with the highest burden of disease in Black women, followed by Hispanic and Asians, and, finally, White women.

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Correspondence to Maria C Dall'Era.

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Dall'Era, M.C., Snipes, K., Cisternas, M. et al. Preliminary population-based incidence and prevalence estimates of systemic lupus erythematosus: the California Lupus Surveillance Project. Arthritis Res Ther 16, A38 (2014).

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  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Patient
  • Black Woman
  • Connective Tissue Disease
  • Ethnic Disparity