CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM) — September is Sickle Cell Disease awareness month, and health officials raise awareness about young adults with the disease going back to school during COVID-19.

According to Dr. Wanda Whitten-Shurney, a Pediatric Hematologist and Oncologist at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan said young adults with Sickle Cell disease face a critical period of transition when you have a chronic illness, and with the new school year among us they need to protect their health.

Dr. Whitten-Shurney said, “People need to have a care plan and they need to be in touch with there physicians. We’re partnering with Global Blood Therapeutics to raise awareness about Sickle Cell Disease and to make sure patients are aware of new medications. There’s a medication called Oxbryta, that hits the source of Sickle disease which is that Sickle cell.

According to health officials these are some important tips to know:

  • Know what to look for in your new medical team, like a doctor who is knowledgeable about SCD
  • Be prepared to speak openly with doctors about your experience with SCD and medical history
  • Take advantage of telemedicine to continue seeing your doctor while staying safe from COVID-19
  • Develop healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nutritious food and drinking enough water
  • Find a virtual or in-person patient support group or community-based organization

Health officials said people with the disease are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and are subject to stigma in healthcare settings which makes it difficult for them to get the care they need.