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Vicki Lawrence shares personal health challenge for first time

(BPT) – Emmy award-winning actress Vicki Lawrence is sharing her experience with chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) in a new campaign called CIU & You. In the US, it is estimated that approximately 1.5 million people suffer from CIU, a disease that is characterized by mild to severe itchy hives that last for six weeks or more with no known cause. Symptoms can last many months or even years, and can be difficult to diagnose.

Best known as the star of TV sitcom “Mama’s Family,” ensemble member of “The Carol Burnett Show,” and more recently appearing as a recurring role on “Hannah Montana,” Lawrence is speaking for the first time about her experience with this condition.

“When I first got an outbreak of hives, I tried everything to find relief. I felt like no one understood what I was going through,” says Lawrence. She was first diagnosed four years ago after hives appeared across her torso, neck and arms. “I was lucky to have my allergist who diagnosed me with CIU. CIU is not something to just tolerate. It’s important to find an allergist or dermatologist who can work with you to help manage your condition.”

Lawrence tried everything she could to get rid of the hives but had little success. After six weeks with hives and no detectable cause, her allergist diagnosed her with CIU. CIU symptoms include itchy red bumps or hives which can appear anywhere on the body. Symptoms come and go unpredictably without an identifiable cause. But the way patients define their symptoms differs from person to person.

“I want to be open about my condition to show others that they are not alone in dealing with this form of chronic hives. My advice for people with CIU is to talk to their doctor about their condition,” Lawrence adds.

She is teaming up with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Genentech, and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) to bring patients CIU & You. This campaign includes information on the disease, Lawrence’s story, a symptom tracker and a downloadable discussion guide to help guide the conversation between CIU patients and their doctor. For more information, visit www.CIUandYou.com.

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