World AIDS Day: How far we have come

World AIDS Day: How far we have come
04 December 2017
World AIDS Day, designated to be 01 December, every year since 1988, offers us an opportunity to reflect upon the successes we’ve had as a country in fighting the epidemic and galvanizes us towards continuing the fight.

Here are a few important developments from 2017:

A vaccine in the making
Scientific trials of an HIV vaccine continue in earnest. In September 2017, large-scale efficacy testing of an HIV vaccine in humans, was announced. It is the first global vaccine, able to treat all strains of HIV, to reach this level of testing.

Remission is possible
Just as people who undergo treatment for cancer may enter remission, new research has shown us this year that HIV remission is possible in certain individuals. That discovery was made in South Africa, where an HIV-positive child has been in remission for almost nine years, without taking any anti-retroviral drugs. Scientists are still investigating the various factors, which may be unique to individuals, that need to be present for remission to take place. However, it remains crucial for patients to continue taking their treatment while this research is being carried out.

HIV testing at home
In the early part of 2017, home HIV testing kits became widely available for purchase at pharmacies across South Africa. While some concerns remain around home testing for HIV, the testing kits hit the shelves after a ban on them was quietly lifted in 2015. With support services like the National AIDS Helpline and LifeLine now also offering counselling for self-testers, the ability to test yourself in the privacy of your own home is an innovative move forward, in the effort to normalise HIV testing. Here’s how testing for HIV testing at home works.

We lost David Patient
Unfortunately, while we’ve gained so much ground in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we have lost one of our world’s most stubborn heroes. David Patient, who lived with HIV for 34 years, and spent 22 of those years not on treatment, died in September 2017. A committed activist and educator, David’s spirit was never dampened, even when health problems unrelated to HIV began to take their toll. After undergoing a round of surgery, Patient developed pneumonia and died.

South African researchers win prestigious award
During 2017, Professors Salim and Quarraisha Abdool-Karim won the Institute for Human Virology Lifetime Achievement Award for their incredible commitment, and contributions towards, the global HIV/AIDS fight. Having overseen an important clinical study that revealed the importance and efficacy of anti-retroviral treatments, our homegrown scientists are to be deeply admired and congratulated for their tireless efforts.

Living with HIV
In years gone by, an HIV diagnosis was, most often, seen as a death sentence. Thanks to scientific breakthroughs, and wide-scale treatment initiatives, this is no longer true. With more than half of the world’s HIV-positive population now receiving treatment, living with HIV is no longer just possible: it’s widely accessible and doable.

LifeDoc Can Help
Now available for download as a mobile application, LifeDoc™ helps you take charge of your personal health information, making it easier to keep track of appointments and schedule those important check-ups, while securely storing your personal medical history. LifeDoc™ helps you to remember when to take your treatment, and when to check in with your doctor or clinic. Register here or like the LifeDoc™ Facebook page for regular updates. You can also stay on track with LifeDoc™ developments on Twitter.