|Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases on National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS
May 19, 2005 marks the first annual National Asian
and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This commemorative
day aims to raise the awareness of Asians and Pacific
Islanders in the United States about the devastating
impact of HIV/AIDS as well as educating Asian and Pacific
Islander communities about the progress in the areas
of prevention, care and treatment, and vaccines. Asian
and Pacific Islander communities in the United States
are diverse, encompassing many cultures and more than
100 languages and dialects that vary widely in area
of origin, tradition, and religion.
Worldwide, AIDS has killed more than 20 million people,
including 3.1 million in 2004 alone. Through 2003, in
the United States, approximately 930,000 people had
been diagnosed with AIDS and more than 400,000 people
were living with AIDS. Although Asians and Pacific Islanders
account for a small proportion of HIV/AIDS cases in
the United States, the number of AIDS diagnoses in these
communities has increased steadily in recent years.
Among Asians and Pacific Islanders diagnosed with AIDS
through 2003, 87 percent were men. From 1993 through
2003, the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders living
with AIDS increased from 1,253 to 3,826. The numbers
of HIV/AIDS cases in Asian and Pacific Islander communities
actually may be higher due to underreporting. These
statistics and trends underscore the need and importance
for outreach and educational efforts within Asian and
Pacific Islander communities. As Asian and Pacific Islanders
are one of the faster-growing racial/ethnic minority
groups in the United States, it is imperative that we
educate, support and raise their awareness of HIV/AIDS.
However, barriers and obstacles such as lack of access
to medical care, varying socioeconomic levels, and cultural
and language diversity make it difficult for prevention,
education and outreach programs to be effective. Hence,
in order to minimize the effects of HIV/AIDS, linguistically
and culturally relevant messages are needed to reach
Asian and Pacific Islander individuals and communities.
Over the years, the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National
Institutes of Health, has been committed to a comprehensive
strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. This approach includes research
in prevention and treatment strategies with emphases
placed on the development of safe and effective drugs,
microbicides and preventive vaccines. Through successful
collaborations between NIAID, research scientists and
pharmaceutical companies, a growing number of therapeutic
drugs are entering the market to treat those already
infected with HIV. Yet, we need to do more.
Despite the efforts of many leading scientists worldwide,
a preventive HIV vaccine still does not exist. NIAID
remains committed to developing a preventive HIV vaccine
as well as other prevention measures such as topical
microbicides. We are actively pursuing candidate vaccines
in clinical trials both domestically and internationally.
For us to develop a vaccine that will work in all populations,
we must have all communities be part of the research
efforts, at all levels. We must have Asians and Pacific
Islanders participate as researchers, medical staff,
community educators and vaccine trial volunteers. Most
importantly, we must have the support of Asian and Pacific
It is essential that Asians and Pacific Islanders be
involved in HIV/AIDS clinical trials so that we can
learn if drug regimens or vaccine candidates work in
these populations. Asians and Pacific Islanders are
also encouraged to get involved at the local and national
levels, through community groups, houses of worship,
and other venues, to educate their community about the
effects of HIV/AIDS and to discuss the need for HIV-related
Please join me today, along with national, regional,
and local HIV/AIDS groups, in supporting this effort
to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among Asians and Pacific
Islanders and to mobilize communities to get involved.
Only through collaboration and a willingness to break
down barriers and build bridges will we be able to win
this fight against HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National
Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.