Statement of 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.