World AIDS Day and the Hope For a Vaccine
Dec 01, 2010

By Christine Vara
Here at Shot of Prevention, we are open to discussing issues that pertain to children’s health.  Admittedly, they often involve immunizations and vaccine preventable diseases.  However, in honor of World AIDS Day, we wanted to take a moment today to generate some conversation regarding a prevalent disease that is completely preventable – but not vaccine preventable – yet. 
The sad reality is that although AIDS can be prevented and even treated, it can not be cured.  It continues to impact the health of millions of people, including millions of children, worldwide -which is why we applaud every effort being made to address this disease on a global level.      
Here is a quick rundown of the alarming statistics according to the USAID:

  • 33.4 million people are currently living with HIV
  • 2.1 million children under the age of 15 are currently living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2 million people a year die from this disease

These numbers are quite staggering.  I recall the public concern in this country when this disease first made headlines.  How is it contracted?  How is it being spread?  How could someone protect themselves?  During those early years, I even lost my own cousin to this disease. 
Fortunately, in the years since, there has been a great deal of public education and awareness that has helped with prevention – especially here in the US.  Yet, while many Americans may not consider themselves at great personal risk of contracting this disease, we should all consider the adverse effect that this disease continues to have on families all over the world.
The promising news is that there have been many scientific advancements that have resulted in effective medical treatment regiments that prolong the life of HIV infected people.   There is also hope that one day researches will identify an effective vaccine that can be used as either a therapeutic treatment for those already diagnosed, (such as the microbial vaginal gel referred to in an earlier post here on Shot of Prevention), or as a preventive measure to limit the spread of this disease.  In fact, just this year there have been some great advancements in vaccine development, many of which are considered groundbreaking.  Slowly but surely, progess is being made.   
But as a recent article in today’s Huffington Post explains, in order for these scientific advancements to come to fruition, we must acknowledge the need for both financial and medical collaboration.   This is, after all, a global health concern that we all have a vested interest in.  The question is, are we doing our part to address it?    
For more information on the worldwide fight against Aids, visit the USAID Health website.   There is also an enormous amount of information available from the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition and a great deal specific to vaccine development within their site as well.     

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