The increase in life expectancy during the 20th century is largely the result of improvements in child survival. This increase is associated with reductions in infectious disease mortality, mostly due to immunizations. Despite the progress, approximately 42,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines are among the most cost-effective clinical preventive services and are a core component of any preventive services package. Childhood immunization programs provide a very high return on investment. Immunization recommendations in the United States currently target 17 vaccine-preventable diseases across the lifespan. [From Healthy People 2020]
The NIH conducts and supports a variety of research projects related to infectious disease prevention, including studies on immunization and vaccines, HIV/AIDS, diagnostics and screening, and global health. This Research Highlight on infectious diseases provides a sampling of research activities conducted and supported across the NIH, examples of recent scientific advances, and a selection of resources from the NIH and federal partners.