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National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

October 15, 2003


Statement of
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
on
National Latino AIDS Awareness Day


The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is proud to commemorate the first National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, October 15, 2003, along with hundreds of national, regional and local HIV/AIDS groups and state health departments. This day of observance is an opportunity to bring together community, scientific and religious leaders to focus on the current state of HIV/AIDS in Latino communities across the nation.

The Latino community has been disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. While Latinos account for 14 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for nearly 20 percent of total AIDS cases reported in the United States in 2001.

HIV/AIDS has taken the largest toll on Latino men, who through December 2001 accounted for 80 percent of AIDS cases reported among all Latinos. In 2000, HIV/AIDS was the second leading cause of death for Latino men ages 35 to 44 years old, and the fourth leading cause of death for Latino women in this same age group. Through December 2001, Latino women accounted for 20 percent of AIDS cases reported among all women, and Latino children for almost 15 percent of AIDS cases reported among all children.

Latino communities face a set of unique challenges in their fight against HIV/AIDS. Issues such as cultural stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, lack of access to adequate healthcare and high poverty levels have contributed to the impact of HIV/AIDS. Even though nearly one-third of Latinos continue to identify HIV/AIDS as the most urgent health problem facing the nation, Latinos continue to get tested later in their illness than African Americans and whites.

Despite such challenges, we have made significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In the United States, prevention efforts have achieved a measure of success in many settings, although much work remains. In recent years, we have seen the positive effects 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 Latino 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.

By commemorating National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, the hundreds of community, religious and HIV/AIDS groups demonstrate their ongoing commitment to eradicating the disease. The continued support of the Latino community is critical in our effort to address the HIV/AIDS crisis among Latinos in this country, and I praise their hard work and continued commitment.

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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.

Media inquiries can be directed to the NIAID News Office at 301-402-1663, niaidnews@niaid.nih.gov.


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 Web site at www.niaid.nih.gov.

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 www.nih.gov.

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Important note: Information on this page was accurate at the time of publication. This page is no longer being updated.
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Last Updated October 16, 2003