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Updated Atlas of MS Shows Over 2.8 Million People Worldwide Have Multiple Sclerosis -- with Nearly 1 Million in the US

September 11, 2020

There are now 2.8 million people worldwide who have multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the most extensive global study to date. That means every 5 minutes, someone, somewhere in the world is diagnosed with MS. Nearly 1 million of them are living in the United States.
The newly updated Atlas of MS, an effort led by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation with funding from the National MS Society and others, reveals that the number of people living with MS has increased in every world region since 2013. Experts from 115 countries completed the epidemiology survey, representing 87% of the world’s population. 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.
There remain big gaps in the global footprint of MS. In the U.S., the National MS Society’s Prevalence Initiative team is continuing its work by analyzing data that will help determine who gets MS, including age, race, and geographic information. In addition, the Society is working with the Center for Disease Control on the launch of the National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System. Beyond a basic prevalence count, this system could provide additional information to help researchers refine and target research questions, including:
  • Geographic clusters, which may provide clues to the cause of MS and other disorders;
  • Demographic and genetic information (age, sex, race); and
  • Health care practices, utilization, and disparities.
Explore the updated Atlas of MS
Read more about MS prevalence in the U.S.

This study is now published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal:
"Rising prevalence of multiple sclerosis worldwide: Insights from the Atlas of MS, third edition" 
Accompanying editorial: "Atlas of MS 2020: Informing global policy change"

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


© 2024 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.