Currently there are several undergoing studies for HIV prevention methods, scientists around the world are working hard to find an effective HIV preventive vaccine for those that are HIV negative for them not to get infected with the virus. Then, after continuing the planned work that is being done, scientists are to proceed working on finding a therapeutic HIV vaccine for those of us who are already living with HIV.
It is important for our community to learn about HIV vaccines and other important clinical trials taking place around the world and the United States. The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) is an international collaboration of scientists and educators searching for an effective and safe HIV vaccine to eliminate more infections in our communities. The HVTN’s mission is to facilitate the process of testing preventive vaccines against HIV/AIDS. HVTN is an organization that conducts all phases of clinical trials, from evaluating experimental vaccines for safety and the ability to stimulate immune responses, to testing vaccine efficacy. Visit www.HVTN.org to get more information.
Currently, there is a range of biomedical HIV prevention strategies being tested or recently approved for our community to take advantage of, some of these strategies include AIDS vaccines, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), microbicides, voluntary medical male circumcision, treatment as prevention, and HSV-2 suppression. In addition, there is a new and amazing variety of male and female condoms that people can use. My personal view and opinion about finding “the cure” is more about integrating the current methods for HIV prevention and increasing the tools provided for a comprehensive HIV prevention and education. Learn about the variety of options in HIV prevention in our communities through the wonderful work of the AIDS Vaccines Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) which is a global advocacy organization for HIV prevention; visit www.avac.org to learn more about their strategies.
How do we think life would be after there is a cure? Well, we will need to continue making substantial efforts on learning about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to prevent these and provide our communities with education for safe sex practices and protection; even after finding “a cure” for HIV or better said, an effective preventive HIV vaccine – because prevention and education in our communities will still be needed!
Personally, I think among several things the AIDS epidemic has been about the big puzzle of stigmas (homophobia, sexism, racism, human rights, labeling people’s sexual preferences or identities, discrimination, rejection, etc). It has carried all the way through to today and has caused damage in our society and in our communities. When people educate themselves, and are able and capable to openly talk about these issues freely, I know things will change in our communities.
An HIV vaccine is our best hope to end the AIDS epidemic. And when that effective preventive HIV vaccine is developed and made available to all, perhaps then the “real healing” of all those infected and affected will begin.