February 7, 2003
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Today, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is proud to stand with hundreds of national, regional and local HIV/AIDS groups in observing the third annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This critical effort to mobilize community-based efforts to educate African Americans about the devastation of HIV/AIDS; encourage those most at risk of acquiring HIV to be tested; and provide support to those living with the disease will undoubtedly help save lives. It comes amid a welcome and unprecedented movement to address the HIV/AIDS crisis among African Americans. This month alone, virtually every Black media outlet in the United States will run articles on the impact of AIDS on African Americans. Many national organizations have made HIV/AIDS a priority issue. These efforts are necessary and impressive - and need to be sustained and expanded.
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.
Despite these grim statistics, there is hope and progress in our fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, in the United States and abroad. President Bush recently announced his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. His Plan commits $15 billion over 5 years, starting with $2 billion in fiscal year 2004, for the prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS in 14 of the hardest-hit countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, to improve the care of the approximately 900,000 Americans infected with HIV, and to stop the spread of HIV in this country, the President also has proposed $16 billion in fiscal year 2004 for domestic HIV treatment, prevention and care, a 7 percent increase over last year. This figure boosts AIDS research funding by $93 million, and support for AIDS drug assistance program by $100 million.
Much progress has been made against HIV/AIDS. In this country, prevention efforts have reduced the annual number of new HIV infections from approximately 150,000 per year to around 40,000 per year In recent years, we have seen the positive impact of advances in HIV therapies for so many living with HIV/AIDS, and the promise these medicines offer for those in the developing world. But prevention and treatment are only part of the answer. We must do all we can to find a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. With NIAID funding -- and in partnership with industry, academia and the community -- more than 20 promising HIV vaccine candidates are in clinical trials. It will be through efforts such as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day that we will be able to educate the community about the advances and opportunities for progress in vaccine research, as well as in HIV prevention and treatments.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and the work of the organizations and individuals engaged in activities to support it, is a critical effort in addressing the AIDS crisis among African-Americans in this country. I commend these efforts and offer our support to all those involved, and thank them for their leadership in promoting a healthier America.
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 February 08, 2003