WASHINGTON, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The United States still has a problem with HIV and the U.S. government faces a challenge in combating HIV/AIDS, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Fauci just came back from the 18th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010), which he described as "one of the better conference we had over the last several years."
AIDS 2010, held in Vienna, Austria, is the platform for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic to exchange their views on the current situation of global HIV prevention and treatment, new research in this field and recent scientific developments.
"We have now about 575,000 death already since the beginning ( of AIDS). There are 1.1 million people infected with HIV and unfortunately 21 percent of them do not know they are infected. Those are the ones who unwillingly and unknowingly go on to infect other people," Fauci said. "And that's the reason we need to do better in testing people and identifying them and getting them on the therapy.
Fauci said there are about 56,000 new HIV infections each year in the United States and although the problem with HIV has weakened, it's still "at a non-acceptable high level."
In combating the deadly virus, the U.S. government faces a challenge, said Fauci, an immunologist that has made substantial contributions to research in the areas of AIDS and other immunodeficiencies, both as a scientist and as the head of NIAID.
"That is still a lot of new infections each year in the United States, for which we need to take care of ourselves, as well as our responsibility and our activity to help people in developing world where there are 2.7 million new infections each year," Fauci said. "So the big challenge is to prevent new infections, including by the development of a vaccine. We consider that one of our important goals."
Fauci thought the new National AIDS Strategy unveiled by U.S. President Barack Obama two weeks ago is "very important," based on the fact that the U.S. need to, first of all, prevent new infections and secondly, a great access to care for those who are infected.
"We need to lessen and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities because there is a great deal of disparity, " said Fauci.