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
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
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.