International May 12th Awareness Day Date in the current year: May 12, 2024

International May 12th Awareness Day International May 12th Awareness Day, also sometimes referred to as International ME/CFS Awareness Day, International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day, International Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Awareness Day and International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases, is observed annually on May 12. It was created to raise awareness and dispel misconceptions about chronic immunological and neurological diseases.

Chronic immunological and neurological diseases (CIND) is an umbrella term for a group of diseases that affect both the central nervous system and immune system. It most generally refers to four conditions: myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia, environmental sensitivities / multiple chemical sensitivity (ES/MCS), and Gulf War syndrome, although a number of other diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s to ulcerative colitis also fall under the CIND umbrella.

The causes and mechanisms of CIND are not fully understood, and their symptoms involve multiple body systems. Common symptoms shared by all four main CINDs include fatigue, chronic pain, headache, and sleep problems. They can seriously affect the quality of life, especially during flare-ups, and may even result in disability.

International May 12th Awareness Day was started in 1992 by Tom Hennessy, the founder of Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (RESCIND). He chose the date of May 12 for the observance because it coincided with the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

From her late 30s onwards, Nightingale was intermittently bedridden due to a chronic illness that might have been ME/CFS (although some modern biographers attribute her illness to brucellosis and associated spondylitis), which didn’t prevent her from being productive in healthcare and social reform. Hennessy thought that Nightingale’s resilience and selflessness in the face of a debilitating illness could be a sourse of inspiration and hope for people living with chronic immunological and neurological diseases.

The website and social media of International May 12th Awareness Day are currently run by the Canadian registered charity Action CIND whose main goal is to promote the recognition, empathy, treatment and support services for CIND. International May 12th Awareness Day events are organized by patient organizations, healthcare institutions and other stakeholders around the globe. They include educational events, social media campaigns, marches, rallies, and more.

There are many ways to observe International May 12th Awareness Day. You can participate in an event near your or organize an event of your own, learn more about CIND and the everyday struggles of people suffering from these conditions, wear a blue awareness ribbon (or a purple ribbon specifically for fibromyalgia awareness / green ribbon specifically for ES/MCS), and donate to a charity that supports CIND patients or funds CIND research. If you are living with ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, or another chronic immunological and neurological disease, consider sharing your story online to show other CIND patients that they are not alone.

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International May 12th Awareness Day, chronic immunological and neurological diseases, CIND, international observances, awareness days