Worlds Aids Vaccine day is observed on the 18th day of May by the HIV vaccine advocates. They wish to celebrate the day by promoting a continued urgency for an HIV preventive measure in form of a vaccine to halt the HIV and AIDs infections since the disease has no cure yet. This day is aimed at appreciating efforts towards the achieved milestones by community members, volunteers, supporters, scientist and health practitioners towards this end. The proponents of the AIDs vaccine also wish to use this day to create awareness and urge the international community on the importance of channeling investment towards advanced technologies. Investing in newer technologies should be viewed as a way of responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In the year 1997 on 18th May the then US president Bill Clinton made a commencement speech while at the Morgan State University. In his speech, he challenged the world to set new goalposts in lieu with the advancement of science and technology, and hasten the development of an AIDS vaccine before end of the next decade. He stated that only an effective vaccine would eventually end the AIDS scourge. From thence the AIDS vaccine day took effect and started being observed every 18th day of the month of May each year and the first observation of the first world vaccine day was in 1998. This took place as a commemoration of the speech given by Bill Clinton and since then the tradition has continued.
How the day is celebrated
Different communities around the world will hold different activities on the World Aids Vaccine Day with the intent of raising awareness regarding the AIDS vaccine. On this day the proponents will also raise awareness in regard to research for the AIDS vaccine as well as educate the communities in regard to preventive measures against HIV AIDS. This day also aims at enlightening people at the ordinary level on how they can take part in the efforts of stemming the AIDS pandemic at an international level.
AVAC developed a toolkit to aid the advocates of the world AIDS vaccine day when doing explanations about the vaccine science in a layman’s language. However for this research to continue seamlessly there is a need for continued support from the funders and researchers as well as the trial participants. The civil societies are also needed together with other stakeholders to support the search for an AIDS vaccine.
What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that will gradually ravage the immune system of a person which is the human body’s defense mechanism. This will mean that a person infected by this virus is not able to fight off any kind of infections and diseases eventually. Different strains of HIV are found worldwide and an infected person can carry several strains at the same time. Thus, HIV can be classified into two major categories, HIV-1 and HIV-2 with many groups and subtypes as well.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) on the other hand develops when a person’s immune system has been totally compromised by the HIV virus. When a person has AIDS they are not able to fight off most infections and will keep ill most of the time due to the constant infections by the opportunistic diseases since the body can no longer defend itself. An infected person if left untreated can live even up to 10 to 15 years with the HIV virus before it becomes full blown to AIDS.
Facts about HIV/AIDS
- The disease has no cure
- HIV is found in a bodies flowing fluid; breast milk, blood, semen, vaginal and anal fluids but cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva.
- HIV’s most prevalent method of transmission is sex without the use of a barrier like a condom
- Others methods of transmission are using infected needles, razor blades and syringes, mother to child, blood transfusion etc
- On developing AIDS a person is left open to other opportunistic diseases and infections which will range from TB, thrush, fungal infections, pneumonia etc
- A person with AIDS is at risk of developing other life threatening and limiting illnesses like cancer.
- A person is said to have AIDS when their CD4 count drops to below 200 cells per each milliliter of blood. The CD4 are the T-Helper cells found in each cubic milliliter of blood.