May 18, 2003
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health
May 18th is International HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. It is a day to thank the thousands of volunteers, health professionals, and scientists conducting or participating in HIV vaccine research. To show my support for them, I will join others in wearing my AIDS ribbon upside-down to form a "V" for "vaccines," a vision of a world without AIDS, and a symbol of the urgent need to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
There is no time to waste. AIDS is now the leading cause of death of African-American men aged 25 to 44 in the United States. Among African-American women in the same age group, AIDS claims more lives than diabetes or cancer. Although African Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for more than half, or more than 20,000, of all new HIV infections each year. Around the world, more than 14,000 people are infected with HIV every day, more than two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
Progress is being made. Scientists have been searching for a safe and effective vaccine to prevent HIV infection since the virus was first identified in 1984. Each new test or clinical trial brings us one step closer to finding an effective vaccine. To date, more than 12,000 volunteers have participated in HIV vaccine clinical trials. Today, more than 20 promising HIV vaccines are in the various stages of testing. More vaccines will be studied in the next two years than in the last five years combined.
A comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS must include prevention and treatment components. Prevention efforts in the United States have reduced HIV infections from approximately 150,000 per year to around 40,000 per year, and advances in HIV therapy have improved and extended the lives of HIV-infected individuals. NIAID is actively working with colleagues in this country and abroad to link the provision of anti-HIV therapy to prevention efforts, with the goal of facilitating a comprehensive approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in rich and poor countries.
For the first time ever, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day will be commemorated with a twist on a familiar symbol of AIDS awareness. I urge all individuals to recognize the hope and promise of HIV prevention vaccine research by wearing a red AIDS ribbon upside-down on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, May 18th. Share with others your vision for a world without AIDS.
For more information on HIV vaccine research, please visit: http://www.niaid.nih.gov
Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
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Last Updated May 19, 2003