HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV attacks the immune system by destroying CD4 positive (CD4+) T cells, a type of white blood cell that is vital to fighting off infection. The destruction of these cells leaves people living with HIV vulnerable to other infections, diseases and other complications. As the leading U.S. government institute for HIV/AIDS research, NIAID is committed to conducting the research necessary to successfully end the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Why Is the Study of HIV/AIDS a Priority for NIAID?
Nearly 37 million people are living with HIV around the world. In the United States, 1.2 million people are living with HIV, of whom 13 percent are unaware of their diagnosis. Although progress has been made in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, the epidemic continues in the United States and the international community. Globally, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 45 percent since their peak in 2004. Yet the rate of HIV transmission remains unacceptably high, with 2.1 million new infections occurring worldwide in 2015 alone.
How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?
NIAID-supported investigators are conducting an abundance of research on all areas of HIV infection, including developing and testing preventive HIV vaccines, prevention strategies, and new treatments for HIV infection and AIDS-associated opportunistic infections. Through laboratories and clinics on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and a vast network of supported research at universities, medical centers, and clinical trial sites around the globe, NIAID is working to better understand HIV and how it causes disease, find new tools to prevent HIV infection including a preventive vaccine, develop new and more effective treatments for people living with HIV, and hopefully, find a cure.