Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.,
Director, National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases,
National Institutes of Health,
on National Asian and Pacific Islander
HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, May 19, 2007
On National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness
Day, we honor those who have dedicated themselves to promoting
HIV/AIDS awareness and education among people of Asian and Pacific
Island heritage. It is also a day to remember those whom we have
lost to HIV/AIDS and to recommit ourselves to stopping this deadly
disease from spreading within our communities.
Collectively, Asians and Pacific Islanders are among the fastest
growing racial and ethnic groups in the United States, and they
represent an emerging risk group for HIV/AIDS. The enormous cultural
diversity among Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States
poses significant challenges to HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. Because
they represent many different nationalities and ethnic groups,
more than 100 languages and dialects, in addition to English, are
spoken by members of this community.
As in many communities, stigma and discrimination against people
with HIV/AIDS are major barriers to raising awareness and promoting
prevention among Asians and Pacific Islanders. These obstacles
sometimes make it difficult for open dialogue and communication
between family, friends, neighbors, medical care providers, community
health educators and other members of the community. Such dialogue
is critically important for individuals at high risk for HIV and
those already infected with the virus with regard to support for
testing, care and treatment.
In addition, health care workers and other public health officials
need to be able to offer culturally sensitive and language-appropriate
care and services. This is especially important for recent immigrants,
who may not have knowledge or prior experience with the health
care system in the United States and, therefore, may have limited
access to and utilization of medical services. We must work to
ensure that these services are available.
At the same time, it is imperative to accelerate our research
efforts to find new and improved interventions against HIV/AIDS.
At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
of the National Institutes of Health, we are fighting the HIV/AIDS
epidemic with a multifaceted, comprehensive biomedical research
strategy that includes the development of new and improved methods
of diagnosis, treatment, prevention and care.
NIAID has a longstanding commitment to supporting research to
discover new and improved drugs to control HIV and AIDS-associated
complications and co-infections. These efforts have played a large
part in the development and approval of the more than two dozen
licensed anti-HIV medications that have dramatically prolonged
and improved the lives of HIV-infected people throughout the world.
NIAID also has played a lead role in developing potential HIV prevention
strategies, such as topical microbicides that individuals could
use to protect themselves against acquisition of HIV and other
sexually transmitted infections. In addition, NIAID continues to
make significant strides and scientific progress in the quest for
an HIV vaccine.
Developing new interventions against HIV/AIDS requires involvement
from all communities affected by the disease. To determine whether
an HIV therapy, vaccine or other prevention strategy works in all
populations — including Asians and Pacific Islanders — men
and women from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are needed to
participate in HIV/AIDS clinical research, either by volunteering
for a trial, or by supporting the involvement of others. It is
critical for Asian and Pacific Islander communities to become involved
in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
On this commemorative day, I encourage you to join the efforts
in educating and raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, and in promoting
participation in HIV/AIDS clinical research in Asian and Pacific
Islander communities. Partnerships involving communities, scientists,
organizations and individuals offer the best chance to prevent
HIV, save lives and bring an end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Dr. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health
in Bethesda, Maryland.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on basic immunology, transplantation and immune-related disorders, including autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergies.
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.