(NAPS)-Black Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, in their lifetime, one in 16 black men and one in 32 black women will be infected with HIV. This National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, as the nation approaches the 30th year of the HIV epidemic, we are faced with the stark reminder that HIV prevalence in blacks is almost eight times that of whites.
"These alarming statistics remind us that all communities- particularly communities of color-need new biomedical tools, including a vaccine to prevent further spread of the virus," says S. Wakefield, director of external relations at the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. "It is also essential that we identify culturally appropriate approaches to engage all individuals in using proven HIV prevention tools and in the search for new ones. This is critical as we continue to search for ways to overcome the health inequities currently impacting black communities. A commitment to engaging those most affected is the only way we can truly make a significant difference in HIV research."
CDC data show that more people are living with HIV in the United States than ever before, and while there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, advances in treatment can help the majority of those who are infected live longer, fuller lives. But treatment is costly and remains out of reach for many people in the United States. The best hope in the fight against AIDS is to find a preventive HIV vaccine, and recent studies are bringing us closer than ever before to that discovery.
Scientists are gaining new insights into how vaccines, microbicides and other HIV prevention strategies may work. These studies would not have been possible without the support and participation of volunteers of all races and ethnicities, including African Americans. However, more volunteers are still needed to find a safe and effective vaccine that prevents HIV infection for everyone.
Because community involvement and education are essential to the success of HIV vaccine research, initiatives are under way across the country to help people understand why HIV vaccine research is relevant to them and how they can support these efforts.
About HIV Vaccine Research
* HIV/AIDS is the third-leading cause of death for black men and women aged 35 to 44.
* Historically, vaccines have been the most powerful weapon against infectious diseases such as polio, measles and hepatitis B.
* The HIV vaccine candidates being studied in humans do not contain the actual HIV virus, so they cannot cause anyone to become infected with HIV.
To learn more about HIV vaccine research in the United States, visit www.bethegenera tion.nih.gov.