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 2006
February 6, 2006
February 7th, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day, serves as a reminder of the disproportionate effect of HIV/AIDS on Blacks and provides an opportunity to renew our commitment to work together to end this modern plague. Fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS and reducing the toll among Blacks will require a multi-faceted approach to promote education and awareness and to improve prevention, testing and treatment options.
HIV/AIDS has had an especially devastating impact on Black communities. By the end of 2004, an estimated 201,000 Blacks had died from AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, 38 percent of all AIDS-related deaths in the United States. Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, yet they accounted for half of all AIDS cases diagnosed in 2004. In 2004, the rate of AIDS diagnoses for black women was 23 times the rate for white women; the rate of AIDS diagnoses for black men was eight times the rate for white men.
This disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS makes it imperative to increase awareness and mobilize Black communities to get involved in the struggle against this disease.
Researchers supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health, are working with colleagues worldwide to develop improved treatment and prevention strategies for HIV/AIDS. NIAID research has led to important discoveries in understanding HIV and its effect on the immune system. These advances in turn have revealed new targets for treatments, vaccines and other interventions. Dedicated scientists are working to discover the next generation of anti-HIV therapies, as well as developing more effective combinations of existing drugs. At the same time, NIAID continues to bolster our commitment to developing a safe and effective vaccine against HIV. Although no vaccine currently exists to prevent HIV infection, approximately 40 vaccine candidates are now in clinical trials around the world. Scientists also are investigating other strategies to prevent HIV infection, such as topical microbicides, which are compounds that may allow women to protect themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
To ensure that research advances benefit all members of society, increased involvement of Blacks and people of all other ethnicities is critical, as researchers, community educators and advocates. In particular, to ensure that treatments and vaccines will work for everyone, representation of all racial and ethnic groups is needed in clinical trials. Tens of thousands of HIV-negative volunteers will be needed as new vaccines, therapies, microbicides and other interventions enter the pipeline for clinical testing.
The AIDS epidemic is one of the greatest challenges to our society today. It is a fight that we cannot afford to lose. I thank all those who have worked hard in the struggle and commend those who have led the way in developing tools of treatment and prevention, sharing and disseminating information about HIV/AIDS, serving as role models and volunteering in HIV/AIDS clinical trials.
But we need to do more. Simply put, to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States, we need to mobilize efforts in all our communities to combat HIV/AIDS, and to coordinate these initiatives with research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, national organizations and local community and church groups.
On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day, make a commitment to get involved. Find out how you can help in the research effort to stop AIDS.
To learn more visit www.aidsinfo.nih.gov or call 1-800-HIV-0440.
Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
This article was provided by U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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