|Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. Director,
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National
Institutes of Health on National Latino AIDS Awareness Day
October 15th is the 4th Annual National Latino AIDS Awareness
Day, a day to focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Latino population
and recommit to working together to curb the devastating effects
of HIV/AIDS in this and other minority communities in the United
It is gratifying to know that national, regional, and local HIV/AIDS
community organizations, along with federal agencies, scientists,
activists, religious and community leaders, and people living with
HIV/AIDS are all working together to raise awareness and curb the
devastating effects of HIV/AIDS around the world. Today, we specifically
focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Latino community, which
has been disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Latinos comprise approximately 14 percent of the United States
population, yet from 1981 through 2004 they accounted for 19 percent
of all AIDS cases reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. By the end of 2004, an estimated 93,000 Latinos
with AIDS in the United States had died. AIDS is the third leading
cause of death for Latinos ages 35 to 44 and the fourth leading
cause of death among Latino women in the same age group. Yet despite
these alarming statistics, a recent NIAID survey found that only
11 percent of Latinos cited HIV/AIDS as the most urgent current
A number of cultural, socioeconomic and health-related factors
contribute to the disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS in the Latino
community. In addition to the language barrier, Latinos face a
unique set of challenges that can include poverty; immigration
issues; a cultural stigma against acknowledging risky behaviors;
poor understanding of HIV/AIDS; and lack of access to adequate
and culturally relevant healthcare.
To overcome these obstacles, Latinos and people from all walks
of life must be encouraged to learn more about HIV/AIDS and to
get involved in the fight to end this scourge. There are no easy
solutions, but we must not lose hope.
Collectively, we must do more to ensure that Latinos are educated
about both prevention and treatment clinical trials so they can
make HIV/AIDS research relevant to their community. We can and
must do better in this regard, as Latinos are underrepresented
among participants in AIDS clinical trials.
In particular, to ensure that an HIV vaccine works for everyone
regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender, all populations
must participate in the research process. Unfortunately, the NIAID
survey mentioned above found that Latinos had the lowest level
of interest in learning more about HIV vaccine research. To increase
knowledge among Latinos and others, the NIAID HIV Vaccine Research
Education Initiative, a new phase of the HIV Vaccine Communications
Campaign, is partnering with nonprofit community-based organizations
and the NIAID HIV Vaccine Trials Network to conduct HIV vaccine
awareness and education activities in the diverse communities they
serve (see http://www.bethegeneration.org/).
It is our hope that as more Americans become better informed about
HIV/AIDS, they will support HIV vaccine research, and many will
volunteer for a trial. Twenty-two clinical trials of HIV vaccines
are under way, and to date, approximately 23,000 people have volunteered
in NIAID-supported HIV vaccine clinical studies. With another 12
promising vaccine candidates in the pipeline, however, the need
for more volunteers, including Latinos, has never been greater.
A safe and effective vaccine to prevent HIV infection is our best
hope to end the global AIDS pandemic, and I urge Latinos to become
involved in the research effort.
As we test new treatment and prevention strategies, we should
be proud of the fact that we are making progress through collaboration
and partnership with the Latino community. I applaud the hard work
and support of the Latino community in fighting HIV/AIDS, and look
forward to continuing to work together to address the HIV/AIDS
crisis that affects us all.
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 and Public Information
Branch at 301-402-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
* MA Allen et al. JAIDS 40:617, 2005