Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day, February 7, 2007
On February 7th, we commemorate the seventh annual National Black
HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day. This day of recognition
reminds us of the devastation that HIV/AIDS continues to inflict
on African American communities. Although African Americans account
for only 13 percent of the U.S. population, in 2005 they represented
approximately 50 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than
211,000 African Americans with AIDS have died since the epidemic
began. African Americans have long been disproportionately affected
by HIV/AIDS, and that disparity has only deepened over time.
Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
in collaboration with colleagues around the world, continue to
unlock the mysteries of HIV/AIDS and develop new strategies to
prevent infection and to treat people living with HIV. Over the
years research advances have positively affected lives of individuals
and communities, here and abroad. Recent analyses suggest that
at least three million years of life have been saved in the United
States since the advent of combination antiretroviral therapy in
the mid-1990s, highlighting the significant advances made in the
treatment of HIV-infected individuals.
Scientists are now working to improve the treatment of HIV-infected
people by developing new drugs and by defining the optimal use
of current drugs. At the same time, NIH-supported researchers are
making significant progress in developing new tools of HIV prevention,
such as topical microbicides that individuals could use to protect
themselves against acquisition of HIV infection. Promising research
also has led to the development of multiple candidate HIV vaccines
that are being testing in the United States and in countries around
the world. A multifaceted and comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS
that includes diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care is the
best strategy to fight this epidemic, and NIH-supported scientists
will continue to lead the research endeavor with their dedicated
Some of the biggest challenges we face today are the misperceptions
of and lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and fear related to clinical
research, particularly among African Americans. I encourage African
Americans to take part in the research effort in whatever way possible,
as scientists, clinicians, community educators, advocates and study
volunteers. To ensure that treatments and vaccines will work for
everyone, volunteers in our clinical trials need to represent all
racial and ethnic groups. As new vaccines, therapies, microbicides
and other interventions enter the pipeline for clinical testing,
tens of thousands of HIV-negative clinical trial volunteers will
be needed. In this regard, NIAID recently initiated a new campaign
to raise awareness of preventive HIV vaccine research, a campaign
that includes a focus on African American communities with the
hope of addressing some of these challenges (see www.bethegeneration.org).
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day is an opportunity
to get involved and make a difference. Everyone should be encouraged
to get tested for HIV, learn more about the disease and how it
is transmitted, seek medical advice if infected, and become involved
in local community efforts to educate people and fight this disease.
I want to commend all the dedicated workers and the national, regional
and local HIV/AIDS groups that have contributed to efforts to defeat
HIV/AIDS since the disease was first identified. Now more than
ever, we need to work together to end this epidemic.
Further information about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and
Information Day is available at http://www.blackaidsday.org/.
Information on prevention, treatment, and vaccine clinical trials
is available at http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov.
Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health
in Bethesda, Maryland.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health.
NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose
and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually
transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and
illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports
research on basic immunology, transplantation and immune-related
disorders, including autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies.
Media inquiries can be directed to the NIAID News and Public
Information Branch at 301-402-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.