|Statement from the National Institutes of Health on World
“Action Makes A Difference”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has adopted “Action Makes
a Difference” as the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day. Today we remember
that we all can make a difference in helping to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS
pandemic, regardless of our background or expertise. Everyone has a critical
role to play, whether as a scientist, clinician, volunteer, policy maker, advocate,
student, caregiver, person living with HIV infection, or friend.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a robust and comprehensive HIV/AIDS
research program. The NIH AIDS research effort represents a unique and complex
multi-institute, multi-disciplinary, global research program with the ultimate
goals of better understanding the basic biology of HIV, developing effective
therapies to treat and control HIV disease, and designing interventions to prevent
new infections from occurring.
Perhaps no other disease so thoroughly transcends every area of clinical medicine
and basic scientific investigation, crossing the boundaries of the NIH Institutes
“World AIDS Day provides each of us with an opportunity, collectively, to intensify
the commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” says NIH Director Elias Zerhouni,
HIV/AIDS has now touched virtually every country in the world, and continues
to destroy health, lives, families and societies. Approximately 40 million people,
including more than one million Americans, are living with HIV/AIDS. In 2005
alone, AIDS caused the deaths of approximately 3.1 million people worldwide,
and about 5 million additional people became infected with HIV.
A key component of the trans-NIH effort is the development of a safe and effective
HIV vaccine. “This crucial tool of prevention has thus far been elusive, but
with ongoing research and collaborations and clinical trials of promising vaccine
candidates, researchers are moving closer to this “holy grail” of HIV/AIDS prevention,” notes
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Researchers also are breaking new ground in developing and evaluating new therapies
for HIV and its complications. Clinical studies are helping to identify which
new agents are effective against HIV and its associated complications and also
to clarify how best to use these drugs.
Scientists continue to make important progress in developing other prevention
methods such as topical microbicides to prevent HIV transmission. Topical microbicides
are creams, gels or other substances designed to allow women protect themselves
against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Jack Whitescarver, Ph.D.,
director of the NIH Office of AIDS Research, says, “Microbicides may be a critical
component of future prevention strategies, especially in settings where it may
be extremely difficult for women to insist on condom use or otherwise protect
themselves from infection.”
The NIH commends the many heroes who have dedicated their lives to slowing the
onslaught of HIV/AIDS, and remains optimistic that together we will find new
and better drugs to help those already infected, and the tools to prevent future
The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for
setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves
planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH
components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which
are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH.
Additional information is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — 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 http://www.nih.gov.