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National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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African Americans Inspiring Hope: HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, May 18th

Eighth annual observance encourages all Americans to support the work of researchers and clinical trial volunteers who are working to end the AIDS pandemic

May 18th is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, a day for educating American communities about the ongoing search for a preventive HIV vaccine and for recognizing the efforts of thousands of clinical trial participants, scientists and health professionals committed to finding a safe and effective vaccine. On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, we salute their efforts.

Although significant progress has been made in the search for a preventive HIV vaccine, a vaccine still does not exist. HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is an opportunity for all Americans, especially members of the African-American community, to learn more about vaccine research and support efforts to develop an HIV vaccine—the world’s best hope for ending the AIDS pandemic.

HIV/AIDS in African Americans

HIV has had a dramatic impact on the African-American community in the United States. In 2003, African Americans, who make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for 50 percent of the 32,048 estimated new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States in the 32 states with confidential name-based HIV reporting.1,2 AIDS is a leading cause of death for African Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 and has already claimed the lives of more than 195,000 African Americans.3,4 Additionally, African-American women are becoming increasingly vulnerable to HIV, accounting for an estimated 60 percent of all new HIV infections among women in the United States.5 Currently, the rate of reported AIDS cases among African-American women is 25 times higher than the number of cases among white women in the United States.6

In the United States, an estimated 950,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS, and an estimated 40,000 people contract the virus each year.7 Worldwide, approximately 40 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.8

The support of African Americans is essential to bring about the end of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

“Hope for the Future”

The theme of this year’s HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is “Hope for the future.” More than 25,000 people have already volunteered for HIV vaccine studies.9 Currently, more than 30 HIV vaccine trial concepts are in various stages of testing or under development.10 A large-scale HIV vaccine trial, however, will require thousands more participants of all races and ethnicities, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds, to ensure that the vaccine is effective in all groups but especially those most affected. Achieving progress in the search for a preventive HIV vaccine—and inspiring hope for the future—requires that individuals and communities work to break down stigma and dispel the myths about HIV vaccine research, support those who get involved in the research and promote a vision of the world without HIV/AIDS.

Show Your Support

For the third year in a row, people are encouraged to wear an upside-down red AIDS ribbon on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. The upside-down ribbon forms a “V” for “vaccines,” symbolizing advances in HIV vaccine research and the urgent need to stop the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day Events

For more information about HIV Vaccine Awareness Day and outreach activities planned in African-American and other communities, please contact the organizations on the “HIV Vaccine Awareness Day Activities” document found on Information about HIV vaccine research is available online at, or You may also call 1-800-HIV-0440 to request a free brochure (available in English and Spanish).



  1. “Annual Estimates of the Population by Race Alone and Hispanic or Latino Origin for the United States and States: July 1, 2003.” U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report. Vol. 15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2003.
  3. National Vital Statistics Reports, Deaths:  Leading Causes for 2002. Vol. 53, Number 17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 7 March 2005.
  4. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report. Vol. 15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2003.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. 2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). 2004.
  9. IAVI database of AIDS vaccines in human trials (last updated 2/28/2005). International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
  10. “HVTN Fact Sheet, February 2004.” HIV Vaccine Trials Network. 2004.

NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website.

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Last Updated May 16, 2005