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World HIV and AIDS Vaccine Day - May 18, 2022

It is vital that people are made aware of the difficulties surrounding HIV and AIDS, and May 18th each year provides an opportunity to raise awareness in a positive and empathetic way. This day is particularly poignant as it acknowledges all those who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, the staff at organizations that provide care and treatment to sufferers, as well as those who take steps toward finding a vaccine.

As part of World AIDS Vaccine Day, it is important to remember that while there is no known cure or prevention, there are still safe practices that can be employed to avoid spreading the disease.


History Of World HIV/AIDS Vaccine Day

In 1997, during a speech made at Morgan State University, President Bill Clinton asked for experts and scientists around the world to work towards creating a vaccine for AIDS. He said that this would be the only way to limit its spread and eventually wipe it out. He emphasized the importance of developing a vaccine for HIV within the coming decade, saying: “Only a truly effective, preventive HIV vaccine can limit and eventually eliminate the threat of AIDS.”

The first World AIDS Vaccine Day was observed on May 18, 1998. One year exactly after Clinton’s speech. Every year since then the commemoration has taken place. Activities are organized around the globe. The aim of the activities is to raise awareness of the need for AIDS vaccines and to educate people about how HIV can be prevented. Ordinary people are reminded that they can also play a part in ending the pandemic.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) observes National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day to show gratitude to all the medical professionals who are working day and night to find a cure for AIDS and prevent the spread of HIV.



HIV remains a persistent problem in the United States. While great progress has been made in the prevention and treatment of HIV, there is still so much to do.  In 2019 alone, 36,801 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and dependent areas. The annual number of new diagnoses decreased by 9% from 2015 to 2019.

An estimated 1,189,700 people in the United States had HIV at the end of 2019, the most recent year for which this information is available. Of those people, about 87% knew they had HIV. HIV is largely an urban disease, with most cases occurring in metropolitan areas with 500,000 or more people. The South has the highest number of people living with HIV, but if population size is taken into account, the Northeast has the highest rate of people living with HIV. (Rates are the number of cases of disease per 100,000 people. Rates allow number comparisons between groups of different sizes.)



People with HIV may have concerns and questions about COVID-19, including the risk of serious illness and vaccine safety. Here are some FAQs provided by the CDC:


Do COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of someone getting HIV?

No. There is no association between COVID-19 vaccines and the risk for HIV infection. COVID-19 vaccines improve the immune system’s ability to prevent COVID-19 and protect vaccinated people from the more severe complications of COVID-19. 


Are people with HIV at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 than other people?

We are still learning about COVID-19 and how it affects people with HIV. Nearly half of people in the United States with diagnosed HIV are ages 50 and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of certain underlying health conditions. Older age and underlying health conditions can make people more likely to become seriously ill if they get COVID-19. This is especially true for people with advanced HIV or people with HIV who are not in treatment.

People at increased risk for severe illness, and those who live with or visit them, should take precautions (including getting vaccinated and wearing a well-fitting mask) to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.


Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with HIV?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with HIV. COVID-19 vaccines meet the Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality and people with HIV were included in vaccine clinical trials.

Authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring. This includes using established and new safety monitoring systems to make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.


How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine do people with HIV need to get?

COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone who is eligible. The number of vaccine doses you need depends on the type of vaccine you receive.

After completing the COVID-19 vaccine primary series, some people who have advanced HIV (including an AIDS diagnosis) or who have HIV and are not taking HIV treatment should get an additional primary shot. The additional primary shot is intended to improve a person’s immune response to their two-dose COVID-19 vaccine primary series. People who are eligible for an additional primary shot should receive this dose before they get a booster shot. Talk to your health care provider to determine if getting an additional primary shot is right for you.

The CDC does not recommend an additional primary shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with HIV who are virally suppressed or who do not have advanced HIV.

CDC recommends that everyone, including people with HIV, get a booster shot when they are eligible. Learn more about who should get a booster, when to get a booster, and which booster you should get.


Will COVID-19 vaccines interfere with medicine to prevent or treat HIV?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines interfere with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV or with antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV. Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines.


What can people with HIV do to protect themselves from COVID-19?

People with HIV can protect themselves from COVID-19 by following CDC’s COVID-19 prevention recommendations.

If you have HIV and are taking your HIV medicine as prescribed, it is important to continue your treatment and follow your health care provider’s advice. This is the best way to keep your immune system healthy. People with HIV should also continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Here are more steps that people with HIV can take:

  • Make sure you have at least a 30-day (or longer) supply of your HIV medicine and any other medicines or medical supplies you need for managing HIV. Ask your health care provider about getting your medicine by mail.
  • Talk to your health care provider and make sure all your vaccinations are up to date, including vaccinations against seasonal influenza (flu) and bacterial pneumonia. These vaccine-preventable diseases affect people with HIV more than others.
  • When possible, keep your medical appointments. Check with your health care provider about safety precautions for office visits and ask about telemedicine or remote clinical care options.
  • People with HIV can sometimes be more likely than others to need extra help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, and others. If you become sick, make sure you stay in touch by phone or email with people who can help you.



There is currently no vaccine available that will prevent HIV/AIDS infection or treat those who have it. However, scientists are working to develop one. The NIH is investing in multiple approaches to prevent HIV, including a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine. These research efforts include two late-stage, multinational vaccine clinical trials called Imbokodo and Mosaico.

Other NIH-supported research aims to deliver additional HIV prevention options that are safe, effective, desirable to diverse populations, and scalable worldwide to help end the global pandemic. 

Vaccines historically have been the most effective means to prevent and even eradicate infectious diseases. They safely and cost-effectively prevent illness, disability, and death. Like smallpox and polio vaccines, a preventive HIV vaccine could help save millions of lives.

Developing safe, effective, and affordable vaccines that can prevent HIV infection in uninfected people is the NIH’s highest HIV research priority given its game-changing potential for controlling and ultimately ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The long-term goal is to develop a safe and effective vaccine that protects people worldwide from acquiring HIV. However, even if a vaccine only protects some people who get vaccinated, or even if it provides less than total protection by reducing the risk of infection, it could still have a major impact on the rates of transmission and help control the pandemic, particularly for populations at high risk of getting HIV. A partially effective vaccine could decrease the number of people who get infected with HIV, further reducing the number of people who can pass the virus on to others. By substantially reducing the number of new infections, we can stop the epidemic.


Resources for People with HIV


Find HIV Care and Treatment


Get Help Paying for HIV Care


Find Housing and Job Resources


Get Help with Legal Issues


Find Mental Health Treatment


Learn about HIV Stigma and Discrimination


Find Traveling Resources


Get Information on Older Adults with HIV


Filed Under: Events, awareness, AIDS, event, HIV