of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. Director, National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health on National
Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day February 7, 2009
The scourge of HIV/AIDS, which continues to affect the African-American
community disproportionately, highlights the importance of a comprehensive
strategy to address the U.S. epidemic. African-Americans make up
12 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly half of
all new HIV infections and almost half of all Americans
living with HIV. Recent analyses by the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that in 2006, more
new HIV infections occurred among young black men who have sex
with men than in any other segment of the U.S. population. That
same year, black women acquired new HIV infections at 15 times
the rate of white women. If African-Americans were
a country, they would form the 35th most populous nation in the
world but would rank 16th in the number of people living with the
One need look no further than our nation’s capitol to see the
dreadful impact of HIV/AIDS on black Americans. One in 20 residents
of Washington, D.C., a majority black city, is living with HIV—approximately
the same proportion of people as in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
One in 50 D.C. residents has AIDS. These shocking statistics would
be tragic anywhere but are particularly inexcusable in a wealthy
country such as the United States.
Today, on the ninth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and
Information Day, let us unite to address this public health crisis
in the black community. Let us promote tolerance and compassion
for people infected with HIV and ensure HIV testing, counseling
and treatment for all. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, joins
the African-American community in mourning those who have succumbed
to HIV/AIDS and in committing ourselves to preventing further suffering
and death from this terrible scourge.
To win the battle against HIV, it is crucial that African-Americans—and
indeed, all Americans—get tested for the virus during routine medical
care, as the CDC and the American College of Physicians recommend.
Of the estimated 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, one-fifth
do not know they are infected, raising the chances of further
spreading the virus and the likelihood of becoming very ill without
treatment. Increasingly, scientific evidence indicates that beginning
treatment for HIV as early as possible in the course of infection
has advantages for infected individuals, their partners and their
communities. Early treatment appears to improve the odds of staying
healthier longer. In addition, treatment can dramatically reduce
the amount of HIV in blood and other bodily fluids, decreasing
the chances of virus transmission. This is particularly important
during the first weeks after infection, when the amount of virus
circulating in untreated individuals is extremely high.
Treatment is no substitute for prevention, however. NIAID-funded
investigators are working to develop and validate new methods to
protect against HIV infection, including microbicides that could
be applied vaginally or rectally before sex; antiretroviral drug
regimens that could be used to prevent infection in people who
are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV; and, of course,
vaccines to prevent HIV infection.
NIAID also is conducting HIV/AIDS research specifically designed
to benefit African-Americans. For example, NIAID is launching a
clinical study in seven U.S. cities to explore multiple interventions
for preventing HIV infection among black men who have sex with
men. Studies such as these are designed to make the scientific
findings relevant to the patient populations who need them. We
strongly encourage African-Americans to join us in the fight against
HIV/AIDS by participating in clinical research. To locate NIAID-sponsored
HIV/AIDS clinical trials that are seeking volunteers, go to ClinicalTrials.gov.
As a nation, we must focus on the essential measures for curbing
the HIV/AIDS epidemic among all communities, including African-Americans.
These measures include access to basic health care services; routine
HIV testing to ensure that HIV-infected individuals are identified
early in their infection and begin treatment when it provides the
most benefit; and patient-management strategies to ensure adherence
to treatment regimens. Aggressive HIV testing and treatment combined
with a well-rounded HIV prevention research program will serve all
of us well as we attack the epidemic together.
Information about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information
Day is available at http://blackaidsday.org/.
Each year, the NIH Office of AIDS Research (http://www.oar.nih.gov/)
develops a Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research that identifies
strategic research priorities for all areas of AIDS research. The
annual Trans-NIH Plan, developed in collaboration with experts
from the NIH institutes and centers, other government agencies,
non-governmental organizations and AIDS community representatives,
includes a chapter specifically devoted to research addressing
AIDS in racial and ethnic populations. The 2010 fiscal year strategic
plan can be accessed at http://www.oar.nih.gov/strategicplan/fy2010/pdf/Chapter5.pdf.
Visit http://AIDS.gov for comprehensive
government-wide information on HIV/AIDS; visit http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/ for
information about prevention, treatment and clinical trials; and
visit http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/hiv/ for
information on protecting the civil rights and health information
privacy rights of people infected with HIV.
Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda,
Media inquiries can be directed to the NIAID Office of Communications
at 301-402-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (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.
It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic,
clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates
the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
1 Hall et al. 2008. Estimation
of HIV incidence in the United States. JAMA 300(5):520–529.
2 CDC. 2008.
HIV prevalence estimates—United States, 2006. MMWR 57(39):1073–1076.
3 CDC. 2008. Subpopulation estimates from the HIV incidence surveillance
system – United States, 2006. MMWR 57(36):985–989.
4 Black AIDS
Institute. 2008. Left Behind: Black America: A Neglected Priority
in the Global AIDS Epidemic.
5 Government of the District of Columbia
Department of Health. 2007. District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology
Annual Report 2007.
6 UNAIDS. 2008. 2008 Report on the global
7 Government of the District of Columbia Department
of Health. 2007. District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Annual
8 CDC. 2008. HIV prevalence estimates—United States,
9 See, for example,