Office of National AIDS Policy Blog

  • May 19th is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

    As we celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month and the many accomplishments of AAPIs, we also want to recognize that these communities still face many barriers to health and health care, including HIV/AIDS. To recognize these challenges, May 19thhas been designated as the National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The theme for this year’s observance is: “Saving face can’t make you safe. Talk about HIV—for me, for you, for everyone.”

    According to the Banyan Tree Project which founded the observance:

    “Saving face” is a common cultural concept in A&PI communities, where individuals seek to protect the family from perceived public shame or disgrace. In practice, “saving face” contributes to silence about sex, HIV, and safe sex practices. Saving face and stigma also lead to higher rates of HIV infection and a lack of knowledge about one’s HIV status.

    In addition to cultural challenges, many AAPIs in the United States experience economic and language barriers that contribute to discrimination and make HIV prevention, care, and treatment efforts even more challenging.

    We are working to address some of the factors that contribute to a culture of silence and to health disparities in AAPI communities. And we are using new tools and technologies to help reach those at greatest risk for, or living with, HIV/AIDS.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continues to look for ways to bridge the difficulties that some AAPI individuals and communities have in accessing medical care. To that end, we recently issued enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (CLAS Standards), which guide health professionals and organizations in delivering culturally respectful and linguistically responsive care.

  • HIV Vaccine Awareness Day Bulletin

    Editor's Note: This is a cross post from the blog. You can find the original post here.

    The implementation of scientifically proven HIV prevention strategies is helping to reduce the number of new infections — the annual HIV infection rate globally fell by 22 percent from 2001 to 2011 — but a great deal more must be done. Significant scale-up of proven HIV prevention strategies coupled with the discovery of new HIV treatment and prevention interventions are needed to achieve an end to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. A safe, effective and durable HIV vaccine is an essential cornerstone to the long-term strategy to achieve this goal.

    Developing a safe and effective HIV vaccine has been a long and difficult process largely because HIV has proven to be an especially tough target. Recent developments with the HVTN 505 clinical trial and analyses from the HVTN 503 “Phambili” vaccine study have been disappointing, but they also provided clear answers about investigational vaccine strategies that, ultimately, were not effective. Still, the new directions for HIV vaccines that have been recently initiated define our future path and will be pursued.

    Among many projects, scientists continue to explore findings from the RV 144 HIV vaccine study in Thailand, which, in 2009, provided proof-of-concept that an HIV vaccine can afford a modest level of protection. Ongoing research related to the Thai trial is providing important information about human immune responses and other factors that may explain why the investigational vaccine protected some trial volunteers from HIV infection but not others. Such data will help advance researchers’ understanding of HIV’s structure and vulnerabilities and help guide the development of future HIV vaccine candidates. Large-scale investigational vaccine clinical trials designed to build on the RV 144 results and create a more robust and durable level of protection are expected to begin in two-to-three years in South Africa.

    In basic research, scientists are making important discoveries about broadly neutralizing antibodies capable of disabling a wide range of HIV strains when tested in the laboratory setting. For example, NIAID scientists recently charted the co-evolution of HIV and a strong antibody response in an HIV-infected study participant, who is one of the 20 percent of HIV-infected individuals who naturally develops broadly neutralizing antibodies to the virus after several years of infection. Their findings could help identify which proteins to use in an investigational vaccine to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies more quickly. In another advance, a team of NIH scientists recently developed a new tool to identify broadly neutralizing antibodies from blood samples, which could help speed HIV vaccine research.

  • May 18th HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD): A Conversation with Dr. Carl Dieffenbach

    Editor's Note: This is a cross post from the blog. You can find the original post here.

    May 18th is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD), led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health. We spoke to Dr. Carl Dieffenbach at NIH, who had this to say about HIV Vaccine Awareness Day:

    “[On Vaccine Awareness Day] we can take a moment to acknowledge the study participants who have given their time, their energy, . . .  to the study of HIV vaccines.”

    Watch the HIV Vaccine Awareness Day video to hear the rest of his comments and visit the HIV Vaccine Awareness Day website for resources to help community members support the day. To learn more about HIV/AIDS and the Federal response, including information on federally funded research, visit

    Miguel Gomez is Director of, and Senior Communications Advisor, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

  • Courage, Strength, Resilience: Women Fight AIDS

    On Monday, I attended the launch of EMPOWERED, Alicia Keys’ new campaign with Greater than AIDS to reach and inform women about HIV/AIDS, at an event hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is the second event that Alicia Keys and I have attended at Kaiser within the last year, both focused on ending AIDS.

    The women were thrilled to meet Alicia Keys, and Alicia, who was deeply moved by their stories, committed to add her powerful international voice to helping to end the epidemic here in the U.S. Alicia and I intended to lift up the women. But really, it was their strength, courage, resilience, good spirit, and humor that lifted us up.

    The HIV crisis touches every corner of the globe. And it’s personally touched so many of us, including here at home. We all have tragic stories about how HIV/AIDS has affected our family and friends, and these stories propel us all to continue to fight to end this disease.

    Monday's event addressed one of the tragic realities of HIV in our country. The HIV epidemic continues in the United States, with about 50,000 new HIV infections each year. And while about one-quarter of new HIV infections are among women, three-quarters of new infections among women occur among black and Latina women.

  • FY 2014 Budget reflects the Administration’s Commitment to Implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

    Last week, the President sent Congress his budget for fiscal year 2014. The 2014 Budget highlights this Administration’s ongoing commitment to implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The Budget also aligns with the President’s commitment to achieving the goals of the Strategy by investing in evidence-based interventions, focusing efforts in populations most affected by HIV, and supporting vital research. The Budget is a comprehensive plan that reduces the deficit and puts the Nation on a sound fiscal course. By making strategic and science-based investments in Federal efforts to address the HIV epidemic, it will help the Nation meet the goals of the Strategy.

    For details on the President’s budget and HIV/AIDS, please visit the Office of Management and Budget's website.

    Grant Colfax, MD is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.

  • National Youth HIV + AIDS Awareness Day

    Ed. Note: This is a cross post from You can find the original post here.

    At AIDS 2012, the international AIDS conference, youth advocates announced the inauguration of National Youth HIV + AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) to be marked on April 10, 2013.

    In establishing this observance, Advocates for Youth  and the eleven other founding partners are recognizing the key role of youth in our collective response to HIV. The organizers note that “the creation of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is a step toward addressing the needs of young people in the fight against HIV and AIDS.”