Many juvenile arthritis kids benefit from advances in medications. Some, like Abigail, have failed all drugs available or have another life-altering disease that limits their arthritis treatments.
When Abby was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in roughly 20 joints. She immediately began infusion therapy (biologics) that helped to keep her arthritis stable, relieve pain and swelling and slow the progression. Biologics have been a lifesaver for thousands of people with autoimmune diseases like Abigail, but the downside is they lower the immune system and can leave patients susceptible to serious outside infections.
In 2016, Abigail had a major setback in her health. She contracted a rare fungal infection when she traveled out of state on a family vacation. It settled into her lung and spread to her eyes, spinal cord and brain. It took almost a year to diagnose. In 2017, she was hospitalized for over a month with fungal pneumonia and fungal meningitis. Today, Abby lives with this fungus, and while it is contained mostly to her lung, it is not in remission.
Because Abby's JIA was so advanced at diagnoses, the only treatment that will help slow the progression of her arthritis are biologics. Unfortunately, biologics cause fungal infections to spread. There are currently no safe treatments available for Abby’s arthritis that will not increase the fungus. Because the risk is so high, Abigail is unable to take any medications to relieve the pain or slow the progression of her JIA.
Each day that Abby goes without treatment for her arthritis, her disease progresses and worsens. It has now spread to over 35 joints. Abby is currently involved in several research groups with the Arthritis Foundation and the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA). They partner with many other groups in aggressively seeking new treatments and a cure for juvenile arthritis.