World AIDS Vaccine Day is observed on May 18 every year. This noble initiative is aimed to promote a continued urgency for an HIV preventive measure, as there is no vaccine to cure HIV infection.
The World AIDS Vaccine Day is a reminder of the urgent requirement to promote research to find an effective vaccine to halt the HIV and AIDS infection that might save life of millions of people who have contracted HIV virus or may contract in future.
World AIDS Vaccine Day is also observed to appreciate the efforts and the hard work undertaken by the health practitioners, scientists, community members, volunteers and supporters.
World AIDS Vaccine Day gives an opportunity to proponents of the AIDS vaccine to create awareness about the need of the HIV and AIDS vaccine. It also gives a message to individuals and society to invest their money in research and development required to fight the disease.
The start: May 18, 1997.
The then US President Bill Clinton on May 18, 1997, at the Morgan State University, made a commencement speech where he challenged the world to set new goalposts. He asked the world to hasten the development of an AIDS vaccine before the end of the next decade. Bill Clinton further said, “Only an effective AIDS vaccine would eventually end the AIDS scourge”.
Since then, May 18 is observed as Worlds Aids Vaccine Day every year.
First Worlds Aids Vaccine Day was observed in 1998.
What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that holds the potential to gradually ravage the immune system of a person which is the human body’s defense mechanism. It simply means that a person infected by HIV is not able to fight off any disease or infection.
Worldwide, different strains of HIV are found and it is not uncommon for single individual to carry several strains at the same time. HIV is classified into two major categories, HIV-I and HIV-II. They are further classified in many groups and subtypes.
What is AIDS?
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) develops when a person is HIV infected and due to the virus, the immune system collapses. When a person suffers from AIDS, his body can no longer defend itself and is unable to fight off most infections. It means they remain ill most of the time due to the constant infections.
An HIV-infected person, if left untreated, can even live upto 10 to 15 years with the virus he gets AIDS.
Some shocking statistics.
In 2015, a total of 36.7 million adults and children were living with HIV.
- 2.1 million adults and children are newly infected with HIV.
- By 2015, 1.1 million people died due to AIDS.
- Girls and women make up for more than half of the people living with HIV.
- HIV transmission is high among drug users and their sexual partners in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
- In Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa regions, more males are reported to be suffering from AIDS than women.
Facts about HIV/AIDS.
The disease has no cure.
- HIV is found in body’s flowing fluid; blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal and anal fluids.
- HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva.
- The most prevalent method of transmission of the HIV virus is through unprotected sex.
- Other methods of transmission include the use of infected needles, razor blade and syringes, blood transfusion.
- When a person’s CD4 count drops to below 200 cells per each millilitre of blood, the person is said to have AIDS.
- A person with AIDS has a higher chance of developing other terminal illness like cancer.
- A person infected with AIDS can also catch other opportunistic diseases and infections such as TB, pneumonia, fungal infection, thrush etc.
Antiretroviral Therapy: The only treatment.
There is no cure for AIDS and the only possible treatment lies in administering antiretroviral therapy. This therapy helps to stop the progression of the disease but unfortunately, the therapy is not available to many millions of people suffering from HIV/AIDS due to their economically disadvantageous status.
No other health intervention has a greater impact than vaccination.
The past three decades have seen extraordinary advances in the testing and treatment of HIV. The world has made significant progress in developing new tools to prevent HIV and observing World AIDS Vaccine Day, but it is AIDS vaccination that will be more cost effective and have a greater impact on public health.
Celebrating World AIDS Vaccine Day.
Worlds AIDS Vaccine Day is observed worldwide and different communities organise different activities to raise awareness about the urgent need for developing AIDS vaccine.
Enlightening you and me and the community.
World AIDS Vaccine Day is also observed to enlighten the community at an ordinary level on how we as a part of the community can come forward and be a part of the efforts of uprooting the AIDS pandemic.
Will we ever cure HIV?
Let’s hope for the best.