World AIDS Vaccine Day 2020: Bill Clinton's speech in 1997 birthed the concept; HIV advocates mark day to raise awareness on need for vaccine

World AIDS Vaccine Day or HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is observed on 18 May to spread awareness regarding the importance of a vaccine to prevent HIV.

World AIDS Vaccine Day was first celebrated in May 1998. Observed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the day began being marked after then president Bill Clinton’s 1997 speech which underlined the need of a vaccine to curb the spread of HIV.

 World AIDS Vaccine Day 2020: Bill Clintons speech in 1997 birthed the concept; HIV advocates mark day to raise awareness on need for vaccine

Representational image. PTI

Clinton’s announcement of a comprehensive AIDS vaccine research also led to the Food and Drug Administration approving the US' first large-scale trial of an AIDS vaccine the following year.

What is AIDS?

As per the World Health Organisation, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a term that applies to the most advanced stages of HIV. It is caused by infections that result from a weakened immune system.

This year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, organisations are only carrying out online events and webinars to educate people about HIV.

Experts and doctors will be explaining how AIDS spreads and how people should be treating patients suffering from this disease.

In February, the National Institutes of Health stopped its HVTN 702 clinic trial of 5,000 people in South Africa as it found the jab did not prevent the disease. It was hoped that the vaccine would work and then adapted to cover the different strains of HIV circulating around the world.

Dr Anthony Fauci of the US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said a vaccine is essential to end AIDS. “We hoped this vaccine candidate would work. Regrettably, it does not. Research continues on other approaches to a safe and effective HIV vaccine,” he was quoted as saying.

More recently, a study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine and other institutions has shown that a new type of vaccination, tested on monkeys, can substantially enhance and sustain protection from HIV.

The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, saw the vaccine awaken a part of the immune system that leads to improved protection from the viral infection.

As per WHO data, approximately 37.9 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2018.

Updated Date: May 18, 2020 15:48:08 IST



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