HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 2023: It is observed every year on May 18 to raise awareness of AIDS and its immunisation and to provide information about it. The significance of the vaccine in preventing HIV infection is also highlighted on this day. Additionally, it offers an opportunity to express gratitude to everyone who contributed to the search for a secure and reliable preventive HIV vaccine, including community members, volunteers, doctors, and scientists. As far as we are aware, despite extensive research, there is still no vaccine for AIDS or HIV.
The day also educates people about the disease of AIDS and the HIV vaccine. Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV infects cells of the immune system in the body which leads to a life-threatening condition or AIDS. According to WHO, 37.9 million [32.7–44.0 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2018. Therefore, educating people about AIDS precautionary measures and misconceptions is important.
World AIDS Vaccine Day observance is headed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). Do you know what is AIDS and it is curable or not?
What is AIDS?
AIDS is Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. That is
Acquired - This condition is acquired that is a person becomes infected with a virus.
Immuno - Virus HIV affects the immune system of the person.
Deficiency - The person's immune system becomes weak and not able to work properly.
Syndrome - It may happen that a person suffering from AIDS may also experience other diseases due to a weak immune system.
In 1981, AIDS was first reported in the United States and since then becomes a worldwide epidemic. We can say that AIDS is the most advanced stage of infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
A person suffering from HIV infection is said to have AIDS when his or her immune system becomes so weak that it can't fight other kinds of infections and cancers like PCP a type of pneumonia, KS is Kaposi sarcoma which is a type of cancer that affects the skin and internal organs, TB, etc.
It is also seen that even without these infections a person is diagnosed with HIV infection or AIDS if his or her immune system weakens, as is indicated by the number of CD4 cells in his or her blood.
What are CD4 cells?
HIV virus attacks immune cells known as CD4 cells which are a type of T cell. These are white blood cells that move around the body, defecting faults and anomalies in cells as well as infections. When HIV targets and infiltrates these cells, it reduces the ability of the body to combat other diseases.
Do you know that if the CD4 cell count is less than 200 then the person is given a diagnosis of AIDS? It may take 2 to 10 years or longer for someone with HIV to develop AIDS if he or she is not treated. It is also seen that most people with HIV will not develop AIDS if they start proper treatment soon after becoming infected.
So, we can say that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is an infection that can lead to AIDS. It damages the immune system due to which it becomes easy to get sick.
Causes of HIV
HIV is transmitted in the body through:
- Vaginal secretions
- Anal fluids
- Breast milk
It is also said that if a woman suffering from HIV infection is pregnant and gave birth to a child then might be the disease also transferred to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. The risk of HIV transmission through blood transfusions is extremely low in countries that have effective screening procedures in place for blood donations.
Symptoms of HIV infection
Several people do not show symptoms of suffering from HIV infection until months or even years. Also, around 80% of people may develop a set of flu-like symptoms known as acute retroviral syndrome around 2 to 6 weeks after the virus enters the body.
Some early symptoms are:
- Joint Pain
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Enlarged glands
- Sweating particularly at night
- Red rashes on the body
- Unintentional Weight loss etc.
Is AIDS a curable disease?
Currently, there is no safe cure for HIV. Once HIV enters your body it can't be removed but Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can prevent or reverse the damage to your immune system. Most people stay healthy if they are adherent to ART. There are several other drugs that can prevent or treat opportunistic infections (OIs). It is also seen that ART has also reduced the rate of most OIs. Drugs may help in reducing the infection but they can't be cured properly.
About the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)
NIAID provides training opportunities at a broad level to individuals from several educational backgrounds ranging from high school to postdoctoral level. It is also committed to conducting HIV/AIDS research to prevent new infections, end HIV-related deaths, and complications, and discover a cure.
Therefore, HIV/AIDS Awareness Vaccine Day is observed on 18 May to spread awareness about the infection caused due to the HIV virus which may lead to AIDS. It is necessary to educate people so that they can take proper treatment, and precautions when needed.
Source: hiv.gov, niaid.nih.gov