Today is World AIDS Vaccine Day. The day gives us an opportunity to say a big 'thank you' to the scientists, healthworkers, community members and social workers who are tirelessly trying to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan took to Twitter today and wrote: ''This pandemic has highlighted the nuances of vaccines like never before. World AIDS Vaccine Day serves as an opportunity to express gratitude towards scientists and researchers working in conjunction to find a safe an effective vaccine to prevent HIV infection...". According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ''HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed almost 33 million lives so far.''
World AIDS Vaccine Day: 10 facts
- HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the cells that helps the body fight infection. HIV makes a person more vulnerable to other diseases.
- It is spread by contact with certain body fluids of a person with HIV
- If left untreated, HIV can lead to the AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
- There is currently no vaccine that will prevent HIV infection or treat those who have it. Scientists are however working to develop a vaccine for AIDS.
- Increasingly more people with HIV are leading a normal living because they have access to the life-saving anti-retroviral therapy or ART.
- Vaccines are the most effective means of preventing and even eradicatiing infectious diseases.
- There were an estimated 38.0 million people living with HIV at the end of 2019: WHO
- By June 2020, 26 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, marking a 2.4% increase from an estimate of 25.4 million at the end of 2019: WHO
- Increased HIV vulnerability is often associated with legal and social factors, which increases exposure to risk situations and creates barriers to accessing effective, quality and affordable HIV prevention, testing and treatment services: WHO
- HIV testing should be voluntary and the right to decline testing should be recognized. Forced testing by any authority is not acceptable as it undermines good public health practice and infringes on human rights: WHO