National Latino AIDS Awareness Day October 15, 2005
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
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.