Papal Audience for HD Families
On May 18 2017, Pope Francis publicly recognised Huntington’s disease at the Vatican in Rome. HD families from Ireland and around the world gathered for an historic audience. This special occasion came about because of an inspirational group of HD advocates who conceived the event as a symbolic thank you to those families from South America who provided the samples that led to identification of the HD gene in the early 1990s.
Senator Elena Cattaneo and Charles Sabine, both members of the HDdennomore (HD Hidden No More) organising group, addressed Pope Francis at the start of the audience. Senator Cattaneo, HD researcher and Life time Senator at the Italian parliament, discussed symptoms and stigma surrounding HD. Charles Sabine, HD advocate and former NBC news correspondent, stated ‘Today marks a new chapter in the history of a forgotten disease’ which ‘until today is most hidden and most misunderstood’. He reflected that despite its severity it ‘has never defeated the human spirit because the very best of humanity surrounds it’. He thanked Pope Francis for his wisdom and compassion in ‘shining a light’ on Huntington’s Disease so that it will be Hidden No More.