SAA was founded in 1983 by people affected by ankylosing spondylitis. Prior to that time, there was no support network, no resource for educational materials, not even a single pamphlet for people diagnosed with the disease. SAA was the first and remains the largest resource in the United States for people seeking information on AS and related diseases. Our mission is to be a leader in the quest to cure AS and related diseases, and to empower those affected to live life to the fullest. The goals of the organization are to provide self-help information, supportive networking opportunities, public and professional awareness programs that promote early diagnosis, and to fund research for better treatments and ultimately a cure. SAA is led by a volunteer Board of Directors and Medical & Scientific Advisory Board.
SAA has four major program areas: Public & Patient Education, Research, Professional Education, and Community Based Patient Programs. SAA's programs aim to faciliate early diagnosis, effective treatment and self-help care for optimal quality of life. SAA provides information through publications, videotapes, a toll-free info line, a website with over 600 pages of content, and offers a physician referral directory. Programs include regional educational seminars, and a national network of support groups.