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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

NIAID News Office

Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, October 15, 2005

Together with national, regional, and local HIV/AIDS groups and my colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), I am proud to participate in the commemoration of the third annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

This day is an opportunity to commend all those who have worked to stop HIV/AIDS in the Latino community. Religious and community leaders, people living with HIV/AIDS, scientists, activists, and others have worked together to raise awareness and reduce the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. Looking forward, we must continue — and strengthen — our commitment to reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS among Latinos and all other groups affected by this scourge.

Historically, Latinos in the United States have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Latinos comprise 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet from 1981 through 2003, they accounted for 19 percent of total AIDS cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent years the disease has increasingly impacted Latino women and children; this demographic change underscores the urgent need to address the disastrous effects of HIV/AIDS within the entire Latino community.

Latino communities face many obstacles in the fight against HIV/AIDS, including cultural stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, misconceptions and lack of knowledge about the disease, language barriers, lack of access to adequate healthcare, and high poverty. We must raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and encourage all communities, especially the Latino community, to promote comprehensive HIV prevention programs, to support strong care and treatment programs, to encourage friends and family members to be tested for HIV, and to support efforts to find a vaccine and a cure.

A broad effort involving Latino organizations at the national, regional and local levels is essential. We are making progress. For example, the NIAID HIV Vaccine Communications Campaign supports non-profit, community-based organizations who serve Latino communities to increase knowledge and awareness about HIV vaccine research. NIAID also is partnering with industry, academia, and community groups to educate and provide opportunities for the Latino community to become involved in clinical research to develop new and improved tools of prevention and treatment, especially an HIV vaccine. Building these partnerships can help strengthen our efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS.

I invite people around the country to demonstrate their support and commitment to eradicating HIV/AIDS by recognizing those leaders within the Latino community who are working to fight HIV/AIDS. Our partners in the Latino community are essential to bringing an end to the modern-day plague of HIV/AIDS.

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

Media inquiries can be directed to the NIAID News Office at 301-402-1663, niaidnews@niaid.nih.gov.

NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 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 transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, 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 http://www.nih.gov.

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