World AIDS Vaccine Day

Everything to know this World AIDS Vaccine Day

World AIDS Vaccine Day is observed every year on 18th May.

Led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the day is also known as HIV Vaccine Awareness Day and has been running for 13 years.

The aim of the day is to raise awareness and educate communities about HIV and AIDS and the importance of vaccine research, while recognising the many volunteers, health professionals and scientists who go above and beyond to try and find an effective AIDS vaccine.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is the late stage of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection that occurs when an individual’s immune system has become severely damaged because of the virus.

HIV is a virus that weakens your immune system over time, and is transferred through bodily fluids including blood, vaginal fluids, and semen.

While there are some early symptoms that people can look out for including fever, headache, tiredness, fatigue, a sore throat and/or swollen lymph nodes, many people don’t display any symptoms for weeks, months or even years.

This means that HIV is highly transmissible and is often passed on through sexual intercourse by people who don’t realise that they have the virus. It can also be spread via blood by people who share needles while injecting drugs, and during childbirth.

While there is currently no cure for HIV, or a vaccine for either HIV or AIDS, advances in medical science including early detection using laboratory testing, and treatment for HIV using antiretroviral drugs, mean that we can stop the virus from replicating in the body, allowing the immune system to repair itself and ensuring the virus remains undetectable.

When HIV is undetectable, the virus cannot be passed on, even while it remains in the body. This means that individuals living with HIV can have sex without passing the virus on to others. This is known as undetectable=untransmittable (U=U).

Is regular HIV testing important?

Getting tested is the only way for a person to find out their HIV status and it plays a vital role in reducing the risk of transmission from person to person. For people who have the virus, finding out early can also help ensure they are able to seek the correct treatment before the infection progresses and symptoms worsen. Additionally, routine HIV testing can give peace of mind to people who are sexually active, ensuring they remain clear of any infection. 

Recent statistics suggest that there could be 106,890 people living in the UK with HIV but around 5,100 are undiagnosed. In 2021, 94,954 people accessed treatment for HIV in the UK but it’s believed that many more could be suffering in silence.

The most important thing to remember is that AIDS is a result of HIV, but individuals can only pursue treatment if they know their HIV status.

NHS data also shows that more than two fifths of HIV diagnoses in the UK are made late, when the immune system has already been damaged, leading to poorer health outcomes in the long-term.

This demonstrates the importance of regular HIV testing.

Where can I get a HIV test?

There are many ways that you can access HIV testing including via your GP, local sexual health services, and via HIV charities. However, it’s also easy to order an at-home test online.

An AlphaBiolabs HIV Test is available for just £29 and will tell you whether you have HIV-1 and HIV-2 markers, as well as the p24 early detection marker, using only a finger prick blood sample.

Simply place your order online, and we will ship your test kit out to you immediately in discreet, plain packaging. Your testing kit will contain full instructions on how to collect your blood samples and return them to our UK laboratory for analysis.

If you receive a Reactive result from an AlphaBiolabs HIV test, you MUST contact your GP or local sexual health clinic for confirmatory testing, further guidance, and treatment options.

We also have a range of other STI tests including for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.

Please note that you must be at least 16 years of age to purchase a home STI test from AlphaBiolabs.

For more information, call our friendly and discreet Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email health@alphabiolabs.com.

Home STI tests

Explore our full range of home STI tests, from just £29.