The new edition of the Atlas of MS is now available!

Did you know that:

  • 2.8 million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis (nearly 26,000 in Australia)?
  • On average, a person is diagnosed with MS at 32 years of age?
  • Or that every 5 minutes, someone around the world is diagnosed with MS?

The Atlas of MS is a worldwide study mapping the who, where and when of MS. The latest edition is full of new data on the pattern of MS around the world and tells us more about the make-up of the global MS community.

The Atlas of MS began in 2008 to address the lack of data on MS globally. It was refined and improved with a second edition in 2013 and the newest edition is the most comprehensive yet. It contains data from 115 countries covering 87% of the global population.

This 2020 edition reveals that the number of people living with MS has increased in every world region since 2013. Although better counting methods, more accurate diagnosis rates and population growth are just some of the factors behind the rise, an increased risk of developing MS cannot be ruled out.

The Atlas shows a much larger number (30,000) of children and young people under 18 living with MS than before. It confirms the high proportion of females living with MS and shows the ratio of males to females varies according to region. These findings will be used to underpin further medical research and to shape healthcare policies to improve the quality of life of people living with MS.

Globally, the Atlas confirmed that 85% of people are initially diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS where they experience periods of relapse and remission, whereas 12% are initially diagnosed with progressive MS. The remaining 3% have an unknown disease course at initial diagnosis. For everyone with the condition, MS makes life unpredictable.

Typically, MS is diagnosed in people’s 20s and 30s, but it can occur at any age, with the global average age of diagnosis being 32 years. As this is an age when people might be finding a long-term partner, having children, and forging careers, it’s important that support mechanisms are available to enable people to live the lives they want.

MS Australia and MS Research Australia were proud to support and contribute to this important piece of work – a job made easier by the already significant amount of data and information about MS already collected and published in Australia.   Both organisations contribute significantly to the work of MSIF in a variety of ways.  This helps the MS research community and the broader Australian MS community to connect to the global MS community, sharing and often leading in ways to improve the treatment and management of MS and in the search for a cure.

Discover more here:


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The new edition of the Atlas of MS is now available!