Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health on National Latino AIDS Awareness
October 15, 2008
Today, on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, we reflect on the
disproportionate toll of HIV/AIDS among Latinos in the United States
as we intensify our commitment to fighting the virus and the disease
in this minority community.
Latinos are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at a higher rate than every
other racial or ethnic group in the United States except African-Americans.
The HIV infection rate for Latinos in this country — 29.3
new cases per 100,000 people in 2006 — is nearly three times
higher than for whites.  Since
the epidemic began, an estimated 80,690 Latinos with AIDS in the
United States have died. The National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), joins the Latino community
in mourning those who have succumbed to this terrible disease.
To make progress in the battle against HIV/AIDS among Latinos,
we need to overcome the barriers to early HIV testing and treatment.
A recent study found that four every 10 Latinos in the United States
who test positive for HIV develop AIDS within a year of learning
they are infected. That means
a significant number of Latinos with HIV get tested late in the
course of their disease, long after proper counseling and treatment
should begin. This is unacceptable in our country, where antiretroviral
drugs for controlling HIV and prolonging life are widely available
and best used earlier in the course of disease. A delay in getting
tested or starting treatment also may increase the risk of spreading
HIV, as untreated patients with high levels of the virus are more
likely than treated patients to infect others. Therefore, NIAID
strongly endorses testing for HIV during routine medical care for
adolescents, adults and pregnant women, as the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention recommends.
Given the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on Latinos in the
United States, NIAID supports research on the effects of the virus
and its treatment in this patient population as part of the Institute’s
comprehensive research program to prevent HIV transmission and
help those who become infected. For instance, Latinas represent
more than a quarter of the 2,214 volunteers currently enrolled
in the NIAID-co-sponsored Women’s Interagency Health Study, which
is investigating the long-term impacts of HIV infection and antiretroviral
therapy in women. Latinos represent more than half of the 370 volunteers
currently participating in a NIAID-sponsored Multicenter AIDS Cohort
Study in Los Angeles of the natural history of treated and untreated
HIV infection in young, minority men who have sex with men. And
Latinas comprise two-thirds of the 202 volunteers in a NIAID-sponsored
study of osteoporosis in HIV-positive, postmenopausal minority
NIAID also encourages Latinos to participate in clinical trials
for HIV therapeutics and vaccines. Research participation not only
helps make cutting-edge scientific findings relevant to the Latino
community, but also opens access to quality health care services
and counseling on how to reduce the risk of becoming infected with
HIV. In this regard, Latinos composed 21 percent of the 7,672 U.S.
volunteers in studies conducted last year by the NIAID-funded AIDS
Clinical Trials Group, which plays a major role in defining the
standards of care for the treatment of HIV infection and opportunistic
diseases related to HIV/AIDS. Latinos also represented 30 percent
of the nearly 3,600 U.S. volunteers enrolled in studies conducted
last year by the NIAID-sponsored International Maternal Pediatric
Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group, which works to decrease
illness and death associated with HIV disease in children, adolescents
and pregnant women.
Latinos are involved in HIV/AIDS studies not only as participants,
but also as scientists. NIAID and its sister institutes at NIH
support the training and development of the next generation of
Latino researchers through programs for minority investigators
at NIH and at numerous sites around the country.
On this commemorative day, we thank those who care for Latinos
with HIV/AIDS and those who work to prevent the spread of HIV in
Latino communities. We also thank those who have volunteered for
clinical trials to develop and test HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment
methods, and we urge members of the Latino community to continue
participating in such research. Finally, we encourage Latinos — and,
indeed, all communities — to champion HIV testing as part
of routine medical care.
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 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. JAMA 300(5):520–529.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2006, Vol. 18. Atlanta: U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, CDC: 17.
3. Ibid, 12.
4. CDC.2006. Revised recommendations for HIV
testing of adults, adolescents, and pregnant women in health-care
settings. MMWR 55(RR14):1–17.