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HIV Vaccine Awareness Day/ World AIDS Vaccine Day 2019

World AIDS Vaccine Day is also known as HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD). It is an annual event observed on 18 May to spread awareness about the continued need for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. What is AIDS, how it spreads, what is HIV vaccine, how HIV leads to AIDS etc. Let us find out.    
May 18, 2019 10:27 IST
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HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 2019
HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 2019

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is to educate people about the disease AIDS and HIV vaccine. As we know that human immunodeficiency virus or HIV infects cells of the immune system in the body which leads to a life-threating condition or AIDS. Globally around 38 million people are suffering from HIV. Therefore, to educate people about the precautionary measures and misconceptions for the disease AIDS is necessary.

World AIDS Vaccine Day observance is headed by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). This day provide a chance to thank several volunteers, community members, health professionals and scientists those who are working and researching to find a safe and effective HIV vaccine for prevention. Do you know what is AIDS and is it curable or not?

What is AIDS?

AIDS is Aquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. That is
Acquired - This condition is acquired that is a person becomes infected with virus.
Immuno - Virus HIV affects the immune system of the person.
Deficiency - The person's immune system become weak and not able to work properly.
Syndrome - It may happen that a person suffering from AIDS may also experience other diseases due to weak immune system.

In 1981, AIDS was first reported in the United States and since then becomes a world wide epidemic. We can say that AIDS is the most advanced stage of infection caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Both the names HIV and AIDS may confuse you as both the terms describe same disease. But it is not necessary that a person who is HIV positive should have AIDS.

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 with other kind of infections and cancers like PCP a type of pneumonia, KS that 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 also a person with HIV is diagnosed with AIDS if his or her immune system weakens, as it is indicated by the number of CD4 cells in his or her blood.

History of World Aids Day

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 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 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 Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is an infection that can lead to AIDS. It damages immune system due to which it becomes easy to get sick.

Causes of HIV
HIV is transmitted in the body through:
- Blood
- Semen
- Vaginal secretions
- Anal fluids
- Breast milk

It is also said that a women suffering from HIV infection is pregnant and gave birth to a child then might be the disease also transfer to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. The risk of HIV transmitting 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 suffering from HIV infection until months or even years. Also, around 80% of the 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:
- Fever
- Joint Pain
- Chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Enlarged glands
- Sweating particularly at night
- Red rashes in the body
- Tiredness
- Weakness
- 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 it can't be cured properly.

About National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID)
NIAID provide training opportunities at 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 HIV virus and may lead to AIDS. It is necessary to educate people so that they can take proper treatment, precautions when needed.
Source: hiv.gov, niaid.nih.gov

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