International HIV Awareness Day

World AIDS Day is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV. On this day, we pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to the virus and those who continue to live with HIV.   

In honour of world AIDS day on 1st December, we are shedding some light on some of the medical advancements made to cure and prevent the spread of the disease, helping save millions of lives. 

Why is it so hard to find a cure? 

Finding a cure for HIV can be challenging as once the host body is infected, the virus integrates itself into the genome of several cell types, making it hard for scientists to create one cure that would be effective for all cell types. 

Is research happening now? 

It’s been over 40 years since the release of the first scientific report on AIDs and how the spread occurs. Since then, there have been slow advancements made in the HIV research field. In the last few years, scientists discovered a way to target HIV-infected cells and make them dormant, without harming other cells. This innovative discovery facilitated people’s recovery, allowing the virus to be suppressed. Today, many people living with HIV take just one pill a day to suppress the virus, permitting them to live everyday lives. Treatment options continue to evolve, and medical advancements are made daily to find the cure for HIV.  

Future research opportunities? 

As for the future, while the development of vaccines will help save many lives, the short-term reality does come with its foreseeable challenges. Creating vaccines for diseases that are fast adapting will not be helpful in preventing infection in the long-term. After decades, and billions of dollars of research, there is still no vaccine or cure for HIV. Research has been done on different scientific delivery mechanisms, different areas of the viruses targeted, and different parts of the immune system targeted, and so far, none of them has been effective at preventing HIV infection. While medical advancements are slowly being made, scientists rely on tools to evaluate if they are already on the market.  

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