On May 18 every year, World AIDS Vaccine Day, also known as HIV Vaccine Knowledge Day, is observed globally. This event aims to increase public awareness about the significance of receiving an HIV vaccine in avoiding both infection and AIDS. The idea for observing World AIDS Vaccine Day came from a commencement address given by former U.S. President Bill Clinton at Morgan State University in 1997. World AIDS Vaccine Day was first observed on May 18 in the year 1998.
Since 1998, World AIDS Vaccine Day has been celebrated by various organizations worldwide with the aim of educating people about the importance of taking the right preventive measures, creating AIDS awareness, supporting researchers and motivating people to participate in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
What are the goals of World AIDS Vaccine Day?
The initiative of World AIDS Vaccine Day serves two goals. They are,
- It aims to honour the committed medical experts, researchers, and supporters who have dedicated their lives to the development of an effective and safe AIDS vaccine.
- It highlights how important vaccinations are in preventing and providing protection against this deadly virus.
What is HIV?
HIV, which is also known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a type of virus that affects the immune system in the body and attacks the cells responsible for fighting infections in the body. As a result of this, the human body becomes vulnerable and susceptible to catching various diseases and infections. HIV, when left untreated, eventually leads to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
What is AIDS?
AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a chronic and deadly disease. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection leads to the development of AIDS. This stage of HIV infection is the most advanced and dangerous. Patients with AIDS experience significantly reduced levels of specific white blood cells, and their immune systems are severely compromised. Additionally, they could exhibit other conditions that indicate the development of AIDS.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
Where HIV is a virus that affects and impairs the immune system, AIDS, on the other hand, is a condition that occurs when a person’s immune system is severely compromised due to an HIV infection. AIDS can happen only when HIV infects the person. Without HIV infection AIDS cannot occur.
Symptoms of HIV
HIV infection is a condition that can exist without any obvious symptoms. Occasionally, people may get flu-like symptoms soon after acquiring HIV. Hence, it is essential to get tested for HIV. Some of the HIV symptoms may include the following,
- Loss of weight
- Sore throat and cough
- Night sweats
- Mouth sores
- Muscle and joint pain
What are the causes of HIV/AIDS?
The transmission of the virus occurs from one person to another through some of the body fluids. These body fluids include the following,
- Breast milk
- Vaginal and rectal fluids
HIV infection usually spreads when these HIV-infected bodily fluids come in contact with a healthy person through,
- Mucous membranes are found inside the penis, vagina, mouth and rectum. The virus may spread during unprotected vaginal or anal sex.
- Through cuts, wounds or broken skin
- Through sharing used needles
- From a pregnant mother to the unborn baby
- Through the breastmilk of an infected mother
- Through blood transfusions
How does HIV not spread?
It is important to spread awareness about the ways through which HIV cannot spread. This is because there is still some stigma around the disease and misconceptions about how it may spread. The following are the ways through which HIV cannot spread to another person,
- Normal contact, such as hugging or kissing
- Through touching the personal items of an infected person
- Eating food that was prepared by an infected person
- Doing everyday activities with an infected person, such as playing sports
- Through the air, water, pets or insects
How can you prevent HIV infection?
To prevent your risk of contracting HIV infection, it is essential to follow these preventive measures,
- Use protection while having anal or vaginal sex
- Don’t inject needles used by others
- Avoid injecting drugs
- If you think you may have a high risk of contracting HIV infection, then get tested to start early treatment.
- Inform your sexual partner if you have HIV
- Seek medical help if you are pregnant and HIV positive
How can HIV be treated?
Currently, HIV/AIDS does not have a cure. Once a person is infected by HIV, this virus doesn’t leave the body. Although it cannot be eliminated, there are various medications that can help in controlling HIV and preventing any complications. This is known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). The objective of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is to reduce the levels of HIV (viral load) in the bloodstream and slow down the impact of HIV on the immune system weakening.
This World AIDS Vaccine Day 2023, it is essential to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS symptoms to help people with early testing and treatment. It is also essential to create awareness about the various ways through which HIV can spread. To create awareness among people on this World AIDS Vaccine Day 2023, educate them about the various HIV preventive methods. The stigma around HIV and AIDS must also be broken, and people having them must be treated normally. Hence, to observe World AIDS Vaccine Day 2023, it is crucial to inform people about the various ways through which HIV cannot spread.
At Ayu Health Hospitals, we provide the best care to our patients that is affordable and highly patient-centric. Our team of exceptional specialists provide nothing but the best to our patients. Our patients are our priority, and we aim to work to safeguard their health in the long run.
About the Author
Dr. S. Goel
Dr. S. Goel is a renowned Internal Medicine Specialist currently practicing at Ayu Health, Bangalore. He is a Specialist in Internal Medicine, Diabetes HTN, Paediatric Care, and Family Medicine.