(RxWiki News) Imagine a world where HIV/AIDS is no longer a major health concern – and not because of a cure for the disease but due to prevention of the disease before it even strikes. That is the dream for many researchers and health workers focused on fighting HIV.
HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is being celebrated on May 18, and its observance aims to both recognize those working to find a vaccine and to highlight the importance of this research.
"Practice safe sex to help prevent the spread of HIV."
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) reports that more than 33 million people around the world are living with HIV and more than 20 million have died from causes related to HIV/AIDs.
According to NIAID, most of these people with HIV will have to remain on treatment for the rest of their lives after diagnosis. And while modern treatment can slow the disease’s progression, there is no cure.
“We cannot stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic with care and treatment alone,” claims NIAID, which organizes the annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.
NIAID reports that if a safe and affordable HIV vaccine is found, it has the potential to save millions of lives and the billions of dollars spent on treatment, and is the best chance the world has for controlling AIDS.
Thanks to successful vaccines, diseases like smallpox, paralytic polio and diphtheria have largely been eradicated in modern society.
A wide variety of different governmental agencies, universities, organizations and drug companies, along with many study participants and volunteers, are working to create and test HIV vaccines.
The creation of a vaccine has proved tricky, due to the virus’ ability to change rapidly (even in one single person) and “hide” from antibodies that work to protect the body.
It is also necessary to test potential vaccines in human trials, a timely and costly process. NIAID stresses "...the importance of trial participation by people of all races and ethnicities, sexes, and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
This year’s awareness day campaign is titled “Be The Generation To End The AIDS Epidemic.” On the Be The Generation homepage (presented by the National Institutes of Health), people of all backgrounds are encouraged to support and become educated about HIV vaccine awareness.
“The future success of HIV prevention research studies depends on the understanding, trust, support, and participation of all communities,” the website states.
NIAID suggests people get involved by discussing vaccine research with others, or becoming a participant in a research study.
“This annual observance is a day to recognize and thank the thousands of volunteers, community members, health professionals, and scientists who are working together to find a safe and effective HIV vaccine,” reports NIAID. “It is also a day to educate our communities about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research.”