Actor, activist and entrepreneur Wilmer Valderrama joins with the National Kidney Foundation to help spread the word of the importance of kidney health for a nationwide public awareness campaign: Are You the 33%? The National Kidney Foundation

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is joining forces with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), and the actor, activist, and entrepreneur Wilmer Valderrama to reach the 1 in 3 American adults at risk for kidney disease. "Are You the 33%?" is a nationwide public awareness campaign relaunching today timed for Hispanic Heritage Month. The campaign, originally launched in March 2020, was paused due to the national pandemic and will run through March 2021.

With compelling visuals, a thought-provoking social media campaign, and a broadcast PSA featuring Wilmer Valderrama, the campaign, which is available in English and in Spanish, focuses on the 33 percent of adults in the U.S. at risk for developing dangerous, life-threatening kidney disease. Risk factors include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and family history of kidney disease. Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino people are also at greater risk of developing kidney disease.

"Look around the next time you're stuck in a traffic jam with a cabbie on your left, an ice cream truck to your right, and a mom driving a minivan in front of you. 1 in 3, or 33%, of your fellow drivers, are at risk for kidney disease," said Kevin Longino, CEO of NKF and a kidney transplant patient. "We believe it's essential to reach more than 80 million American adults at risk for kidney disease, especially communities of color which are at higher risk. Addressing the health disparities that exist within these communities is a critical part of the campaign and our overall work in helping people affected by kidney disease."

People of certain racial and ethnic groups are more likely to develop kidney disease than others. Blacks or African Americans are 13% of the U.S. population but represent 32% of those with kidney failure. Hispanics or Latinos are 1.3 times as likely as non-Hispanics/Latinos to develop kidney failure. The two main causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are more prevalent in these communities.

"Everyone needs to learn about kidney health," said Valderrama. "Millions of people have kidney disease. It affects more people than breast cancer or prostate cancer. My family and I are taking this disease seriously. I took the kidney quiz to find out my risk for kidney disease and you should too." Valderrama has close family members affected by diabetes and high blood pressure, two of the key risk factors.

Having kidney disease also puts you at greater risk of developing life-threatening complications from COVID-19. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), people with kidney failure had the highest rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 among all Medicare beneficiaries. Black or African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos at a greater risk for both kidney disease and COVID-19. The campaign's creative assets were altered to recognize the importance of social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Previous visuals included crowded stadiums. The new visuals include a Zoom meeting, a traffic scene, a socially distanced bike lane, and a socially distanced drive-in movie parking lot.

The "Are You the 33%?" campaign, co-sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, HHS and ASN is part of a new Public Awareness Initiative of the Advancing American Kidney Health (AAKH) plan. In November 2019, HHS, NKF, and ASN joined in a public-private partnership to implement this awareness campaign. NKF is working with HHS and ASN to align their efforts and elevate the profile of kidney disease as an urgent public health issue. These efforts will increase the campaign's visibility with the general public and mobilize the kidney community of patients, nephrologists, and health professionals to promote new approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat kidney disease.

"More than 90 percent of the 37 million Americans and 850 million individuals worldwide affected with kidney disease are unaware that they are even sick," said Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN, ASN President. "This silent epidemic often strikes without symptoms. Millions of people won't know they have kidney disease until their kidneys stop working and it's too late."

This campaign aims to change these odds. The "Are You the 33%?" campaign urges every adult to learn more by taking a simple, one-minute online quiz here. The campaign microsite and creative assets are available in both English and in Spanish at MinuteForYourKidneys.org.

"My own family has known the burdens of kidney disease, including how taxing dialysis can be. Helping Americans understand their risk for kidney disease and take steps to prevent it is and must be a top public health priority," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "In support of the Trump Administration's national kidney health initiative, the 'Are You the 33%?' campaign will raise awareness of the risk of kidney disease and help millions of Americans take steps to improve their kidney health and prevent the costly, deadly health challenge of kidney disease."

Go to Minute For Your Kidneys today and take a simple quiz and learn what to do next and how to talk to your doctor about kidney health.

Kidney disease can strike anyone, young or old, and has many causes, but early intervention can make a difference. Lifestyle changes and a healthy diet can sometimes slow the progression of the disease when caught in the early stages and sometimes can prevent kidney failure.

SOURCE The National Kidney Foundation

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