It’s HIV Vaccine Awareness Day | World AIDS Vaccine Day | May 18 | Represented by red awareness ribbons, pins and wristbands to raise awareness for this important day.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that, if left untreated, can eventually develops into AIDS. As a result, HIV affects the body’s ability to fight off infections or diseases. It is transmitted through bodily fluids, and it infects T cells, the body’s defense system. Left untreated, T cells in the body dramatically diminish. Therefore, the body is left vulnerable to opportunistic infections and diseases. There is a higher rate of certain cancers and diseases in those with HIV or AIDS. Without early detection and treatment, the body is weakened. Over time, it becomes unable to fight. Then, people succumb to the disease because of an inability to fight off an infection or disease.
The History of HIV/AIDS and HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
At first, in the very early 80’s, cases numbered in the hundreds, and about half of the patients affected had died. By ’82, the pattern of sexuality among patients had become apparent, and so the disease was originally named GRID, meaning gay-related immune deficiency. Around the same time, blood transfusion patients and hemophiliacs began to be diagnosed with the disease. It was then that it was renamed AIDS, meaning acquired immune deficiency syndrome. In ’83, women and children had begun to be diagnosed with the disease. It was becoming clear that the women were having heterosexual sex with men who had contracted the disease. They were then passing the disease to their children.
Nearing the end of the year, the World Health Organization met to discuss the emergence of this new disease and began tracking it on an international scale. By the end of that year, cases were in the thousands, again, with about a 50 percent mortality rate. In ’84, the retrovirus was discovered as the source of AIDS and a blood screening was developed to test people for the presence of the virus antibodies. In ’85, the blood test was made commercial and labs began screening blood in blood banks.
An Increase in Reported Cases
By the end of the year, reported cases of AIDS had reached over 20,000. In ’86, the retrovirus was renamed HIV (previously HTVL-III/LAV), and conclusively recognized as the cause of AIDS. In ’87, it was discovered that the disease could be transmitted through breastfeeding. That year, a more precise HIV antibody test was approved by the FDA. And, the first antiretroviral drug was approved for the treatment of HIV. By the end of that year, cases of AIDS had surpassed 70,000 worldwide, with over half being in the United States. Nearing the end of 1989, there were over 100,000 cases of AIDS in the U.S., and over 400,000 worldwide.
Progress was swift, and the 90’s saw refinement in tests and more effective treatment of the disease. Managing the disease was possible and the HIV diagnosis was no longer a death sentence. Unfortunately, the disease was still spreading at an alarming rate, with cases in the millions. The disease went from numbering in the hundreds to the millions over the course of about ten years. As more celebrities came forward about their battle with the disease, both gay and straight, stigma slowly (very slowly) faded and awareness was raised. The Red Ribbon Project was created in 1991, and that was the birth of the awareness ribbon as a symbol of support and tool for raising awareness.
The HIV Vaccine and World AIDS Vaccine Day
Why do we need one? Aren’t there already drugs that are effective in preventing HIV? The answer to that is yes and no. There is a drug called PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, which can significantly lower a persons chances of contracting the virus if they are exposed. It does not, however, not eliminate the risk entirely. The issue with PrEP is that it isn’t a viable option for everyone at risk. The drug is very expensive; a month supply without insurance is around $1,300. Even if the cost isn’t prohibitive, that doesn’t mean everyone has access to it. This is especially true for those who are at high risk of contracting the virus, like in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, every drug carries a risk of side effects. This drug is only effective when taken every day without forgetting doses. Basically, the prophylactic option is nowhere near ideal.
The Vaccine is Most Promising
All in all, a vaccine is the most promising and most cost effective way to prevent people from becoming HIV positive. It also has the most potential for preventing the disease in countries where it is prominent. Prevention will always be preferable to treatment options. The goal is to have everyone vaccinated against it one day. HIV Awareness Day is observed annually to call attention to the need for a vaccine and educate people on the important role it would play in ending the disease.
Personalized Cause, the Red Ribbon and HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
And now it is time for me to explain who we are and why we began this awareness blog. We are the number one source for custom awareness ribbons in the U.S. What’s a custom awareness ribbon? Good question! We offer our customers the ability to engrave a hard enamel lapel awareness ribbon with a name, date or phrase. Just as the red awareness ribbon changed how people showed support for AIDS and raised awareness for the disease, our custom awareness ribbons aim to change the way we support those we care about. We do this by humanizing their cause. An awareness ribbon by itself says you support a cause, a personalized awareness ribbon says why you support that cause.
At Personalized Cause®, we are all about raising awareness and supporting those around us. Our goal is to raise awareness for many causes with our blog in the hope that one of these blogs may help to detect illness early or prevent illness entirely. We carry awareness ribbons and silicone wristbands, with the option for customization in all our products. Our personalized awareness ribbons allow you to show the world why a cause matters to you. Custom awareness ribbons can be a silent but powerful show of support for someone facing a health crisis. And, these pins are a way to inspire others to take action for a cause. The most powerful way to raise awareness is to show others why it matters to you.
AIDS and HIV are represented by a red awareness ribbon. If you would like to order a red personalized awareness ribbon, visit us at www.personalizedcause.com.
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