Arthritis Ireland has joined the Axial Spondyloarthritis International Federation (ASIF), an international membership organisation representing 50 patient associations around the world.

ASIF works to increase awareness and knowledge of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), a range of chronic inflammatory conditions that primarily affect the spine and sacroiliac joints.

A report published by ASIF last week highlights that there is on average a seven-year delay in achieving a confirmed diagnosis, which can result in irreversible damage. The Delay to Diagnosis report sets out for the first time a global perspective of the impact of diagnostic delay and the factors that contribute to it. It also identifies opportunities for overcoming the delay, drawing on different examples of best practice from around the world.

Arthritis Ireland is the national patient organisation and health research charity representing the one million people living with arthritis in Ireland.

According to Gráinne O’Leary, chief executive of Arthritis Ireland: “Axial spondyloarthritis is a very challenging condition in terms of its impact on people’s lives. However, the situation is exacerbated by low levels of awareness and understanding of the condition, with early symptoms frequently attributed to general back pain.

“Becoming a member of ASIF will benefit people living with axSpA in this country and is a positive step for Arthritis Ireland. We look forward to working together with international colleagues to raise awareness of the condition and to address the many difficulties that exist around achieving a timely diagnosis,” Ms O’Leary stated.

Chair of ASIF, Zhivko Yankov, commented: “The support Arthritis Ireland provides to axSpA patients is critical. ASIF is delighted to welcome Arthritis Ireland and its patients to the global axSpA community, and we look forward to collaborating with them for the benefit of all patients with axSpA.”

AxSpA places a huge physical impact and psychological stress on patients, which can disrupt every aspect of their life and its quality, including mobility, sleep, work and relationships. Symptoms frequently begin when the person is in their twenties. AxSpA encompasses radiographic (ankylosing spondylitis or AS) and non-radiographic (nr-axSpA) forms.

It is also associated with a wide range of comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, enthesitis and uveitis. Two-thirds (64%) of people with axSpA experience depression.

It is estimated that axial spondylorarthritis affects 3 to 7 people per 1,000 – although international estimates vary considerably. This translates to potentially 15,000-33,000 people living with axSpA in Ireland.

Further information about Arthritis Ireland is available at and about ASIF at The Delay to Diagnosis virtual launch event takes place on 7 July. To register or read the report, please visit