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National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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Women 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 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 women, 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 Women

Women account for a growing share of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States, with women now accounting for an estimated 27 percent of the estimated 40,000 new cases of HIV infection in the United States each year.1 Women within minority communities have been disproportionately affected by HIV, with African-American women accounting for nearly 67 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses among women, and Hispanic women accounting for 16 percent of new diagnoses.2 Approximately 80 percent of women who acquire HIV are infected by their male sexual partners, while approximately 20 percent acquire the virus while sharing HIV-contaminated syringes for the injection of illegal drugs.3 HIV/AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among all women in the United States ages 25 to 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among all women ages 35 to 44.4 More than 81,000 women have already died of AIDS.5

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.6 Worldwide, nearly 40 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.7

The support of women 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.8 Currently, more than 30 HIV vaccine trial concepts are in various stages of testing or under development.9 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 communities 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, May 18. 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 for women and other groups, please contact the organizations on the “HIV Vaccine Awareness Day Activities” document found at 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. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report. Vol. 15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2003.
  2. “HIV/AIDS Among Women.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report. Vol. 15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2003.
  6. Ibid.
  7. 2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). 2004.
  8. IAVI database of AIDS vaccines in human trials (last updated 2/28/2005). International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
  9. “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.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 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. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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Last Updated May 16, 2005