The world might be staring at the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, and praying for a vaccine soon, but amidst all the panic, today’s date reminds us of a war that is still raging. Today, May 18, is celebrated around the world as World AIDS Vaccine Day to acknowledge the efforts of thousands of scientists and health professionals who are working relentlessly on finding a vaccine against Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
HIV was first identified in the year 1984 and the world leaders expected a vaccine to come out within two years. Well, it’s been 36 years since then and we are still looking for a functional HIV vaccine. The first World AIDS Vaccine Day was observed on May 18, 1998. Exactly one year ago, on May 18, 1997, the then United States president Bill Clinton had asserted upon the importance of creating a vaccine for the deadly disease emphasizing how a vaccine can curb the spread of the disease and eventually help in its eradication.
This day is also used to create awareness about HIV. At present, there is no cure other than anti-retroviral treatment (ART) which can help in slowing the replication of the virus. This highlights the importance of prevention through the creation of awareness, safe sex practices, avoidance of needle sharing, and early testing of at-risk individuals. Vaccines act by stimulating the body’s immune system to protect from infection. The development of a safe and effective vaccine will go a long way in protecting people from getting infected with HIV.