“Prevention is better than cure. Especially when there is no cure”!
As the world celebrates World HIV Vaccine Awareness Day on May 18, 2019, its time to understand the significance of this day. AIDS/HIV Vaccine Day is observed each year to recognize the many efforts of the people working to towards the development of a vaccine to prevent AIDS. This day also provides an opportunity to educate the society about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research.
Why we need a vaccine for HIV?
Today we have live-saving HIV medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) available. These medications can help HIV positive people to stay healthy for many years. This also reduces their chance of transmitting HIV to their partners.
However, we need a powerful HIV prevention tools to eradicate this epidemic globally, which are widely accessible.
Here comes the role of “Vaccines”. Historically, vaccines have been the most effective means to prevent and eradicate any infectious diseases. They are safe, cost-effective and easily accessible.
What is a preventive HIV vaccine?
A preventive AIDS vaccine can be given to healthy people who do not have HIV, with the goal of preventing HIV infection in the future. This vaccine would immunise the person to effectively fight HIV in case of exposure to the virus.
Although, there is no preventive HIV vaccine now that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but research is on.
What is a therapeutic HIV vaccine?
An effective therapeutic HIV vaccine could help prevent the HIV from advancing into AIDS. Thus, replacing the daily use of medicines, and eliminating HIV from the body completely.
A therapeutic HIV vaccine goal to strengthen immune response to the HIV positive people. Thus, this vaccine can slow down the progression of HIV infection, and eliminate all HIV from the body gradually.
Current research on preventive vaccines
Over the last three decades, the treatment options for HIV have improved. But HIV medicines can have side effects, can be expensive, and hard to access in some countries.
Some of the areas of research:
1. Safety of preventive vaccines.
2. Cost-effectiveness of the vaccines.
3. Life-long protection against HIV infection.
4. Immune responses in people receiving preventive vaccine.
5. Different ways vaccination, such as needle and syringe versus a needle-free device.
On this HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, it’s our duty to recognize the work of the thousands world-wide who are working towards this goal.