DHHS, NIH News  
National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Sunday, May 18, 2003

James Hadley
(301) 402-1663

International HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

May 18th is International HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. It is a day to thank the thousands of volunteers, health professionals, and scientists conducting or participating in HIV vaccine research. To show my support for them, I will join others in wearing my AIDS ribbon upside-down to form a "V" for "vaccines," a vision of a world without AIDS, and a symbol of the urgent need to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The statistics are staggering. An estimated 14,000 people around the world will become infected with HIV on May 18th. In 2003 alone, more than 5 million people worldwide will be infected with HIV. In the United States, approximately 40,000 people contract HIV annually, half of them young people under the age of 25. More than two-thirds of new infections in the United States are among members of minority groups. These sobering data remind us of the urgent need for developing an HIV vaccine to slow the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Progress is being made. Scientists have been searching for a safe and effective vaccine to prevent HIV infection since the virus was first identified in 1984. Each new test or clinical trial brings us one step closer to finding an effective vaccine. To date, more than 12,000 volunteers have participated in HIV vaccine clinical trials. Today, more than 20 promising HIV vaccines are in the various stages of testing. More vaccines will be studied in the next two years than in the last five years combined.

A comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS must include prevention and treatment components. Prevention efforts in the United States have reduced HIV infections from approximately 150,000 per year to around 40,000 per year, and advances in HIV therapy have improved and extended the lives of HIV-infected individuals. NIAID is actively working with colleagues in this country and abroad to link the provision of anti-HIV therapy to prevention efforts, with the goal of facilitating a comprehensive approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in rich and poor countries.

For the first time ever, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day will be commemorated with a twist on a familiar symbol of AIDS awareness. I urge all individuals to recognize the hope and promise of HIV prevention vaccine research by wearing a red AIDS ribbon upside-down on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, May 18th. Share with others your vision for a world without AIDS.

Dr. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

For more information on HIV vaccine research, please visit: http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

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