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.)
HIV/AIDS and COVID-19
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.
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
- Find HIV care services near you. Find local HIV medical care, housing assistance, and substance abuse and mental health services.
- Find your state HIV/AIDS toll-free hotline. Connect with agencies that can help determine what services you are eligible for and help you get them.
- Search for HIV care specialists. Find HIV providers who are members of the American Academy of HIV Medicine.
Get Help Paying for HIV Care
- Find out if you’re eligible for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. If you do not have health insurance or money to pay for health services, you might qualify for medical care and other essential support services.
- See if you qualify for disability benefits. If you have HIV and cannot work, you may qualify for benefits from the Social Security Administration.
- Estimate the cost of health coverage. Use online cost calculators to help you understand options for lowering the cost of health insurance.
- Find out how to get Medicare drug coverage. If you have Medicare, learn about what the drug plans cover and the costs you’ll pay.
- Get affordable health insurance. See if you can enroll in or change plans and get answers to common questions.
- Learn about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA created several changes that expand access to coverage for people with HIV.
- Learn about Patient Assistance and Expanded Access Programs. Find prescription drug assistance information and learn about current expanded access trials.
Find Housing and Job Resources
- Learn about the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program. HOPWA is the only Federal program dedicated to addressing the housing needs of people with HIV.
- Find affordable housing opportunities. If you are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or know someone who is, you might be eligible for housing assistance.
- Find questions and answers about housing assistance. Find out what housing programs are available for people with HIV and learn about eligibility requirements.
- Get advice on getting a new job or returning to work. Find out how to return to work and learn about your right to request reasonable accommodations.
- Find resources on employment options for people with HIV. View toolkits, read success stories, and find resource guides for entering or returning the workforce.
- Learn how to reduce stigma and prevent discrimination against employees with HIV. Get tailored resources and tools from CDC’s Business Responds to AIDS program.
Get Help with Legal Issues
- Find states that have HIV-specific criminal laws. Access resources about disclosure, confidentiality, and the law from the Center for HIV Law and Policy
- Get information about HIV discrimination. Learn about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people who are discriminated against because they have HIV or have a relationship with someone with HIV.
- File an HIV discrimination complaint. File an ADA complaint related to HIV discrimination in employment or housing.
Find Mental Health Treatment
- Find mental health treatment programs. View a list of organizations and contact numbers that can help you find mental health treatment and support in your local area.
- Learn about depression. Get information about depression’s causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Learn about HIV Stigma and Discrimination
- View testimonials about dealing with stigma. CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign, HIV Treatment Works, features people with HIV and their stories. The Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign, Stop HIV Stigma, has additional information on stigma for people with HIV.
Find Traveling Resources
- Learn about travel health guidelines for immunocompromised travelers. CDC’s Yellow Book provides pretravel vaccine recommendations and destination-specific health advice.
- Get travel advice and resources. CDC’s Travelers’ Health page helps you locate travel clinics near you, get travel notices for your destination, and learn about vaccinations and precautions.
Get Information on Older Adults with HIV
- Access the latest data on HIV and older Americans from the CDC.
- Get more information on HIV and older people from the National Institute on Aging.