Press Room

Members of the media play a vital role in raising awareness about multiple sclerosis, and giving those affected by MS information about issues affecting their lives. At MS Focus, we recognize the importance of providing information to members of the media in a timely fashion.  

In this section, we provide: 

  • information about our organization, 
  • quick facts about MS,
  • suggested story ideas, 
  • recent press releases, and
  • downloadable public service announcements (PSAs). 

We can assist in connecting reporters to people who can contribute to well-told, informative stories – including medical experts, our executive staff, and people living with MS. For assistance, members of the media are encouraged to contact:

Kasey Minnis
Director of Operations and Communications

  • MS in Brief
  • Organization Bio
  • Story Suggestions
  • PSAs

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, neurological disease, typically progressive in nature, that affects the central nervous system. In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin (the fatty insulation around nerve fibers) causing damage to axons and leaving lesions (scarring) that interfere with the transmission of signals from the brain to the body.

While most individuals have a relapsing form of the condition, characterized by 'flare-ups' of disease activity and slow progression (worsening) over time, about ten percent have a chronically progressive form of the disease, in which the condition advances more quickly. 

Key Facts

  • Sclerosis is a Greek word meaning "scars." The name 'multiple sclerosis' refers to the multiple sites of scarring (lesions) frequently found on the brain or spinal cord of an individual with MS.
  • MS is not contagious.
  • MS is not inherited or genetically transmitted, although there does seem to be some genetic susceptibility to the disease.
  • MS is a progressive disease and, currently, there is no cure.
  • MS rarely has a direct effect on a person's life span. The greater affect is on quality of life.
  • Increased understanding of MS has led to the development of many new treatments that target both the disease process and its many symptoms.


  • The disease can affect people of all ages, but the most common onset occurs between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • Among young adults, MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system.
  • MS affects women more frequently than men, estimated at a 3 to 1 ratio.
  • MS can affect individuals of any ethnic group, though individuals of northern European ancestry appear to be at higher risk.
  • Symptoms are typically worse at onset for African-Americans versus Caucasians, with greater involvement of the optic nerve. 
  • Individuals with a first degree relative with MS have a slightly higher risk (2.5 percent) of developing the disease.  


  • Because MS can affect nerve signals to all areas of the body, there are more than 50 recognized symptoms.
  • Common initial symptoms of MS include visual disturbances, numbness and tingling, balance and walking difficulties, fatigue and weakness.
  • About 85 percent of people are initially diagnosed with the relapsing form of the disease. 
  • Without disease-modifying therapy, about 50 percent of those diagnosed with relapsing MS will become progressive after 10 years.
  • Without disease-modifying therapy, about one-third of those diagnosed with relapsing MS will be using a wheelchair after 20 years.


  • The first official case of MS was recognized in 1868. 
  • MRI was first used in the diagnosis of MS in 1981. Prior to this time, diagnosis could only be made by clinical history and neurological examination. 
  • The first disease-modifying treatment for relapsing MS was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993. 
  • The first disease-modifying treatment for the progressive form of MS was granted "Breakthrough Therapy Designation" by the FDA in June of 2016, to expedite the review and approval process.


  • An estimated 2,500,000 around the world have MS.
  • In countries further from the equator, the incidence of MS increases.
  • In the U.S., roughly 1 in 100 people have MS. 
  • The rate of MS in northern U.S. states is twice that of southern states.


  • The cause of MS is not entirely understood, but research suggests that the cause of MS is a combination of factors, possibly including genetics, environment, and diet, as well as viruses or infectious agents.
  • In identical twins, if one twin has the condition, the other has only a thirty percent risk, indicating that the disease is not strictly genetic.
  • Research on the cause of MS currently pursues many varied lines of inquiry, examining (among other things) the role of immune cells, the gut biome, vitamin D, and several genes. Each appears to provide pieces to the puzzle of MS.


The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, known in the MS community as MS Focus, is a publicly-funded nonprofit organization headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., serving the United States and Puerto Rico.


The mission of Multiple Sclerosis Foundation is to provide programs and support services to those persons affected by MS that help them maintain health, safety, self-sufficiency, and personal well-being; and to heighten public awareness of multiple sclerosis in order to elicit financial support for the Foundation's programs and services and promote understanding for those diagnosed with the illness.

Learn More About Our Mission


Support for MS Focus comes primarily from individual donations and pledges, but also from corporate grants, fundraisers, and charitable bequests. The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation does not receive government support.

Financial Statements

Our Programs

All our programs and services are provided free of charge.

National Toll-Free helpline
Available in English (888-MSFocus [673-6287]) and Spanish (800-448-4727), callers receive personal attention and assistance from service coordinators and peer counselors. 

Homecare Assistance Grant
Provides short-term homecare services, caregiver respite, and therapy services (physical, occupational, and speech therapy). Learn More

Emergency Assistance Grant
Addresses urgent needs to help individuals with MS maintain a safe home enviroment by offering financial assistance with rent, mortgage, or utility payments. Learn More

Assistive Technology Program
Offers equipment and devices that assist with daily activities, from canes to voice recognition software.
Learn more

Cooling Program
Gives cooling vests and accessories to individuals with MS-induced heat intolerance.  
Learn More

Computer Program
Provides laptop or desktop computers so people without them can connect to the digital world of available support.
Learn More

Healthcare Assistance Grant
Funds a visit and follow-up with a neurologist for uninsured MS patients. Learn more

Transportation Assistance Grant
Assists with paratransit fees and minor car repairs, allowing those with MS to seek treatment and/or remain employed. Contact Us

Brighter Tomorrow Grant
Grants the personal wishes of people with MS for items not covered under any other services. Learn More

Health and Wellness Grant
Provides funding to host, or for individuals to attend, health and wellness programs, such as chair yoga, aquatics, or therapeutic horseback riding. Learn More

Support Group Program
Supports the creation and continuation of independent support groups across the United States, affiliated under the MS Focus Independent Support Group Network umbrella. Learn More

Lending Library
Loans hundreds of books, DVDs, and other educational materials across the United States, postage paid.
Learn More

Periodicals and publications
Magazines, newsletters, booklets, brochures, and fact sheets that address every aspect of life with MS.
Learn More

MS Focus Cruise for a Cause
Combines education, support, relaxation, and accessible travel into one amazing experience in this annual educational program at sea. Learn More

Ambassador Program
Provides leadership and advocacy training for individuals with MS in order for them to serve as a resource for their local MS community.
Learn More

Public Education and Awareness
MS Focus hosts education and awareness programs across the United States and Puerto Rico, including offerings for people with MS, caregivers, physicians, and the general public. Learn More

National MS Education and Awareness Month
The annual nationwide campaign for MS awareness, launched by the organization in 2003, is held each March.
Learn More

Services for Healthcare Workers
Grants support patient care and quality of life research, free patient materials, and recruitment assistance for clinical trials.
Learn More


Rising MS Drug Costs

The average cost for of medication used to slow the progression of MS is more than $2,000 a month without insurance, with some treatments costing as much as $7,000 a month. A 2015 study showed that the costs of MS drugs have skyrocketed in recent years, well beyond inflation.



From a machine that uses an electric pulse to help people walk, to a tiny dot that attaches to the forehead and allows paraplegics to surf the internet, new technology helps people with MS to maintain independence and/or employment.


Parenting with a Chronic Condition

Most people diagnosed with MS, and many other autoimmune diseases, are between the ages of 20 and 40. In addition to the normal challenges that starting or raising a family entail, these men and women struggle to explain a complicated illness to their children, as well as care for their families in the face of their own disabilities.

Invisible MS

MS symptoms are unpredictable. For some, the symptoms come and go on a daily, or even hourly, basis. Many of these symptoms are not visible, which can lead to friends, family members and employers mistakenly labeling the person with MS as lazy or unmotivated.


The Wait for Disability Benefits

When many of the symptoms of a disease are invisible, or come and go, the process of acquiring disability benefits becomes more challenging. Many people with MS who can no longer work due to cognitive problems or other difficulties frequently wait two years and endure more than one denial before getting the benefits they need.


Your Local MS Heroes

Around the country, many people are giving their time and talents to help the MS community. They are setting up donor closets, forming support groups, and lobbying for legislation. In addition, MS Focus has specially-trained Ambassadors, stationed around the country, promoting a campaign of MS awareness and education. Contact us to see who in your community you might profile for your publication.


MS Diagnosis Dilemma

Many people with MS spend years suffering from MS symptoms without getting a diagnosis. This could happen for various reasons: many of the common symptoms are also present in other diseases, the symptoms can come and go, and not all doctors are thoroughly familiar with MS.  It has been proven that early diagnosis and treatment can slow disease progression, making it more important than ever that MS gets diagnosed correctly and quickly.

MS Focus works tirelessly to spread awareness about our efforts to help the MS community. To make sure our message is available to everyone, and easy to share, we have recorded these Public Service Announcements for free use.

Please help spread public awareness by sharing these announcements through radio stations, podcasts, and websites.

General Public Service Announcements for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
MSF PSA in MP3 format
MSF PSA in WMA format

Public Service Announcements for National MS Education and Awareness Month (March of each year)
MSEAM PSA in MP3 format
MSEAM PSA in WMA format

Video PSAs may be available upon request.