October 8, 2015

Real Stories, Real Voices Break the Silence Around a Painful, Chronic Skin Disease

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- AbbVie launches Voices of HS at EADV to increase awareness and support for millions of people impacted by hidradenitis suppurativa (HS)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Oct. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, today is launching Voices of HS, a new global campaign to increase awareness and support for people who have hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), a painful, chronic inflammatory skin disease. The launch is taking place at the 24th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct. 7 – 11. It includes a panel event featuring a leading advocacy representative, a dermatologist and patients speaking about the impact and management of HS, documentary-style videos of people with HS and new educational resources.

Voices of HS encourages people affected by HS to speak up and share their experiences for the HS community. HS is estimated to impact 1 percent of the adult population worldwide, but prevalence numbers vary across countries.1-3 Symptoms of HS include recurrent and painful abscesses and nodules on the skin – typically in areas of the armpits, groin, buttocks and breasts.1-2 Often living in isolation and embarrassment, many people with HS face significant challenges in their daily lives, work ability, physical activities and emotional state.1-2,4-6 

"No matter how strong you are, HS takes a toll on you physically, emotionally and mentally. It plays on every aspect of my life," said Brian Bourque, a Voices of HS ambassador living with HS for more than 15 years. "Like others with this disease, I lived in silence and embarrassment for years. That's why I'm proud to be part of this new initiative that is bringing much needed support to the HS community, and I encourage others with HS to join me in making our voices heard."

HS can occur at any age but the average age symptoms start to appear is 21.7 HS can be progressive in some people, so early disease diagnosis and management are important.8 HS patients and people who think they may have HS should talk to their healthcare professional.

"Many of my patients with hidradenitis suppurativa suffer for years in silence and pain before receiving an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care," said Deirdre Nathalie Dufour, M.D., specialist in dermatology and venereology, Hudklinikken Kalundborg, Denmark. "Voices of HS is supporting the HS community by bringing an increased level of education around HS to increase awareness with patients and their physicians." 

People living with HS, their loved ones and the dermatology community are encouraged to visit the Voices of HS Thunderclap at https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/29987 to raise awareness of HS by sharing a unifying message through social media on Saturday, October 10. Thunderclap is a platform that allows people to pledge a Tweet or a Facebook message that is released all at the same time.

"Through Voices of HS, we hope to create new connections in the HS community and provide the support and information people with HS need to communicate with their health care professionals and others about their disease," said Dominik Hochli, vice president, medical affairs, AbbVie.

More information about Voices of HS, including self-filmed, documentary-style videos from people impacted by HS, can be found on HSOnline. This website serves as a local destination for credible and accurate information about many aspects of HS. Resources include a useful guide for patients to engage in dialogue with their dermatologists, a questionnaire to help identify signs related to HS developed by HS experts and patients, frequently asked questions and a glossary of key terms.

About AbbVie
AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott Laboratories. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world's most complex and serious diseases. Together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmacyclics, AbbVie employs more than 28,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries. For further information on the company and its people, portfolio and commitments, please visit www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter or view careers on our Facebook or LinkedIn page.


  1. Dufour DN, Emtestam L, Jemec GB. Hidradenitis Suppurativa: A Common and Burdensome, Yet Under-Recognised, Inflammatory Skin Disease. Postgrad Med J. 2014; 90 (1062):216-21.
  2. Jemec G. Hidradenitis Suppurativa. N Engl J Med. 2012; 366:158-64.
  3. Vazquez BG, Alikhan A, Weaver AL, et al. Incidence of hidradenitis suppurativa and associated factors: a population-based study of Olmsted County, Minnesota. J Invest Dermatol. 2013;133(1):97-103.
  4. Esmann S, Jemec GB. Psychosocial impact of hidradenitis suppurativa: a qualitative study. Acta dermato-venereologica. 2011;91(3):328-332.
  5. Mayo Health Clinic. Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hidradenitis-suppurativa/basics/definition/con-20027334. Published April 9, 2013. Accessed September 23, 2015.
  6. Shavit E, Dreiher j, Freud T, Halevy S, Vinker S, Cohen AD. Psychiatric comorbidities in 3207 patients with hidradenitis suppurativa. JEADV.2014:1-5.
  7. Collier F, Smith RC, Morton, CA. Diagnosis and management of hidradenitis suppurativa. BMJ. 2013;346.
  8. American Academy of Dermatology. Hidradenitis suppurativa. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/hidradenitis-suppurativa. Accessed September 23, 2015.


Kelli Teno
+1 (847) 935-9593