October 15, 2007
Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health
October 15, 2007, marks the fifth annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. On this day, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) pledges to continue working toward reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community in the United States. We commemorate everyone who has been lost to the disease and recognize those committed individuals who promote HIV/AIDS education and awareness in all communities.
Racial and ethnic minorities continue to be disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2005, the adult and adolescent AIDS case rate was 3.5 times higher among Latinos than among whites. This is the second highest rate of any racial/ethnic group in the United States. By the end of 2005, an estimated 77,125 Latinos with AIDS in the United States had died.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that one-quarter of people in the United States living with HIV do not know that they are infected with the virus. This fact—coupled with stigma and discrimination, misconceptions about the disease, inadequate healthcare and language barriers—underscores the need to encourage Latinos to become educated about HIV/AIDS and to get tested regularly.
One of NIAID’s top priorities is to conduct and support HIV/AIDS research that can help improve the health of millions of people in the United States and around the world. Developing new interventions to combat HIV/AIDS requires involvement from all communities, particularly those most affected by the disease. We all have a role. To determine whether an HIV therapy, a vaccine or another prevention strategy works for everyone—including Latinos—men and women from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are needed as clinical trial volunteers and as supporters of those who are considering enrollment.
Fostering strong collaborations with all communities remains a critical goal of HIV/AIDS research. NIAID is committed to working in partnership with the Latino community to raise awareness about HIV transmission, to promote education about HIV prevention and treatment, and encourage involvement in the research process to help in our search for new and more effective prevention and treatment interventions. As we move forward, we must continue to strengthen the partnerships between Latinos and all those involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, such as government agencies, scientists, activists, and philanthropic, religious and community organizations. Let us use National Latino AIDS Awareness Day as a day to recommit ourselves to this effort.
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 October 10, 2007