Lyme Disease is a multi-systemic bacterial infection caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a tick.
In 2009, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 38,000 new cases of Lyme Disease, three times more than in 1991. Four years later, in 2013, the CDC released a new report estimating that 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme Disease annually- a number ten times greater than their 2009 estimate- rendering Lyme Disease the leading cause of all insect-borne illnesses in the U.S. today.
Despite this, the majority of people suffering from Lyme disease struggle to find adequate medical care. Faulty testing leads many of them go misdiagnosed for years, allowing the infection to progress until it becomes almost impossible to undo the damage caused to the various organ systems involved. For this reason, a large portion of those diagnosed with Lyme Disease experience debilitating symptoms long after the recommended course of treatment which can include persistent musculoskeletal pain, chronic fatigue, inflammation of joints (arthritis), cognitive impairment leading to difficulties with speech, memory, and concentration, impaired motor-function leading to difficulties with walking and self-care, as well as a host of other symptoms that drastically reduce the quality of life of those suffering from Lyme Disease or Post Lyme Disease Syndrome (PLDS).
To make matters worse, there is still much debate within the medical community around almost every aspect of this infectious disease. Some argue that it can progress to a chronic infection requiring longterm antibiotic-treatment while others deny any possibility of this and reject the idea that persistent symptoms following a short-course of antibiotics are related to the spirochetal infection.
Meanwhile, the patients are the ones paying the price for this ongoing dispute as this lack of consensus within the medical community leaves them to navigate a labyrinth of conflicting information while baring the financial burden of ongoing treatments not currently covered by the majority of insurance plans. Moreover, the lack of public awareness for this complicated illness has created a riff between those within and those outside of the Lyme Disease community, often leading to tension amongst family members and friends as loved ones struggle to understand the day-to-day difficulties faced by those suffering.
Just recently, Lyme advocates held a “silent vigil” outside of the New York Times building under the banner, “Lyme Disease Is A Pandemic, Where’s The Coverage?” These advocates were protesting the media’s silence on Lyme disease, calling for more and better coverage on the subject in hopes of raising public awareness and encouraging the medical community to address this growing epidemic. Unfortunately, the media’s response was underwhelming.
#PROJECT300k is a campaign which seeks to foster a greater level of public awareness about Lyme Disease while uniting those within and those outside of the Lyme community towards one common goal: demanding improved research and legislation leading to better testing and a higher level of care for Lyme patients.
Through various initiatives, we seek to expose the impact of Lyme Disease on the American public while helping to spread awareness and rally support for a community of neglected patients. Not only do we want to inform the public of this debilitating disease, but we want those suffering from it to feel heard and recognized.
The documentary portion of our campaign will chronicle our journey as we travel throughout the country and meet with people who have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Through a series of interviews we hope to foster a greater level of understanding for the day-to-day struggles of those battling this often invisible illness, showing that Lyme Disease affects people within every age, race, and gender category.
In conjunction with our documentary series, we are running a photo campaign which seeks to further expose the public to the “Faces of Lyme Disease.” Our gallery will house photos of Lyme warriors as well as a brief summary of their experience living with Lyme.
In an effort to raise awareness both for this movement and for our cause, we will also be running a sticker campaign where those who wish to support our efforts and help raise awareness can purchase stickers to be displayed in public. Our hope is that people will see our stickers and feel compelled to research their significance, thereby educating themselves on our mission and on ways in which they can help further our goals.
We hope that these three initiatives help to shed light on the concerns of the Lyme community while strengthening the tenacity and determination of those already fighting for this cause.
Ready to join our movement? Check out how you can get involved!