AUSTIN (KXAN) — Pop superstar Nick Jonas is using his platform and personal experience with diabetes to highlight new treatment solutions, as well as needs for improved patient access.

Jonas appeared as a featured panelist at South by Southwest Conference & Festivals Monday to discuss his lived experience with Type 1 diabetes, a disease he was first diagnosed with at age 13.

“It was an interesting journey not only for me, but for my whole family and community to go through,” he said. “But I think coming out of that and getting my glucose regulated, I wanted to make it a priority to speak and advocate for this disease, for young people and, you know, all people living with both Type 1 and Type 2.”

Monday’s panel included moderator Thomas Grace of the Blanchard Valley Diabetes Center; Mireya Martinez of the Pattison United Methodist Church, Colorado State Rep. Leslie Herod; and Jake Leach, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Dexcom.

Nick Jonas appeared at South by Southwest Conference & Festivals March 13 to discuss life with Type 1 diabetes and evolving treatments. (KXAN Photo/Kelsey Thompson)

Dexcom is a company that develops and manufactures continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, a wearable patch that helps diabetes patients monitor their glucose levels to help them stay regulated. Leach said the technology had been in development for the past 25 years, but has begun to see true success in the past five.

Jonas collaborated with Dexcom for a 2023 Super Bowl commercial promoting CGMs.

It’s a relatively newer form of medical technology that comes after decades of glucose monitoring through finger pricks or urine testing. Now, Leach said the focus is maximizing access for the 40 million Americans living with diabetes.

And strides are being made; earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced expanded coverage for CGMs under Medicare would go into effect in April.

“That’s the largest single decision for access that we’ve seen in the history of CGM,” Leach said, but added there’s still room for improvements.

On the access front, not only are costs a barrier, but discrepancies impacting communities of color, Herod said. She said Black and Brown people are three to four times more likely to have diabetes go untreated or to lack the vital care needed for it.

Herod added distrust and issues within medical communities listening to and properly diagnosing or treating people of color can also exacerbate these disparate health outcomes.

“It’s really important as we think about access, that we make sure that what is good for you all who don’t look like us on this stage and in the audience, it’s good for all of us and that we actually have access to that care,” Herod said.

A sense of community education or preservation is vital, Martinez said, given that there are many misnomers are stigmas lingering around diabetes healthcare. That doesn’t mean lecturing people with diabetes on their condition; rather, she said carrying sugar sources and knowing others’ symptoms can provide support for them in the case of a sugar dip or spike.

“I firmly believe that we all have the sphere of influence, that we all have people who look up to us, who listen to us,” Martinez said. “In some ways, it’s just aggregating people who are closest to speaking up.”