All around the world on May 18th we celebrate HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (also known as World AIDS Vaccine Day). This year marks 20 years since this day was founded. The concept of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day began after Bill Clinton’s speech at Morgan State University on May 18th 1997. In this speech Clinton announced that the National Institute of Health would establish an AIDS vaccine research centre. He stated:
‘We will challenge America’s pharmaceutical industry, which leads the world in innovative research and development to work with us and to make the successful development of an AIDS vaccine part of its basic mission.’
A year later in 1998 HIV Vaccine Awareness Day was established to commemorate Clinton’s speech. This day is all about spreading awareness of the need for an HIV vaccine and therefore continued research into it.
Alongside a cure, an HIV vaccine would be the only way of completely halting the spread of HIV once and for all. At present an effective preventive vaccine remains years from fruition, but there is a lot of exciting progress that indicates we’re getting closer. In November 2016 a new clinical trial was launched in South Africa that is the first large scale study since a trial in Thailand in 2009 – results from this trial are expected in late 2020. In February, this year it was announced that a study conducted over three years in Barcelona had successfully suppressed the virus in five out of 24 patients. Promising new vaccine approaches are also in development here in the UK – the Imperial College London have brought together scientists from 22 institutions to work on developing a vaccine. Earlier this year, at The University of Oxford, European and African researchers formed a partnership to develop an AIDS vaccine that can be used to prevent infection with different strains of HIV worldwide.
This is a huge advancement and great news for us all, however research and development into an HIV vaccine can only continue with sustained funding. This is why continued advocacy for a vaccine is so important; we must maintain pressure on policy makers and funders to ensure they understand the importance of keeping and building their commitments to developing a vaccine.
Get involved in raising awareness this HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, there are lots of different ways you can show your support!
Learn more about HIV, AIDS and an HIV vaccine
Why don’t you visit the below websites or follow these organisations on social media?
- International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)
- HIV Vaccine Trials Network
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Don’t feel like reading? Watch these short videos by NIAID!
Share what you learn with people you know
- A simple but effective way to raise awareness is through social media. You can use hashtags #HVAD and #HIVvaccineAware.
- Join IAVI in their social media campaign using the hashtags #RnD4HIV and #HVAD2017. It’ll be a great opportunity to tell everyone why you support research and development into an HIV vaccine – learn more here.
Join a campaign!
- Youth Stop AIDS have put together a campaigning action pack for the run up to the General Election on June 8th to get you started! You can also sign up to their newsletter to find out more ways to get involved.
- Join HIV charities from across the UK in challenging local candidates to pledge their support for people living with and affected by HIV. Read the HIV Manifesto and find out what you can do to support the campaign.
Support an HIV charity in their invaluable work
- Donate to a charity of your choice working to end AIDS. At STOPAIDS we advocate for stronger leadership in the global response to HIV/AIDS through lobbying and engaging decision makers. If you share our goals and would like to support our work, please consider making a donation.
- Volunteer your time with an HIV and AIDS charity. Wherever you’re located, there will always be volunteering opportunities! Charity Job and Do-it list volunteer roles all over the UK.
And if you haven’t already…
It is estimated that 1 in 6 people don’t know they have HIV, because they haven’t been tested. This is a scary statistic! HIV doesn’t always show symptoms at first but without treatment HIV can seriously damage your immune system, so the earlier you start treatment after contracting the virus, the better. You can even take HIV tests at home and by post now – it couldn’t be any simpler!