All vaccines work under the same principle: to teach our immune system which microorganisms they have to fight, and how. The great thing about our T-cells - those that fight harmful bacteria and viruses inside of us - is that they are capable of learning. Once they encounter a microorganism that makes us sick, they can remember their particular structure and adapt so when they encounter the same menace again, they are prepared and able to fight more efficiently. This is why there are some diseases that we only get once in life, and after that, we become immune. The principle of vaccines is to expose our T-cells to the germs that cause several diseases or infections, so they can learn how to defend themselves; the difference is that a vaccine has a load of weakened or inactivated microorganisms that cannot harm our body, so we rarely get sick because of them.
There are HIV vaccines that are currently under development, but scientists may be facing tougher challenges than they first expected. New studies have found that HIV is a highly adaptable virus that can change its structure in order to increase it capabilites of harming T-cells, so every time it gets inside a new body it can reshape itself. This is a big problem for vaccine design as doses made of one breed might not be able to prepare the immune system for virus samples of other breeds.
If you want to learn more about how virus mutation works and how it could affect the development of a HIV vaccine, you can read the full story in this Science Daily report.
There are still many misconceptions among people about what is HIV, what is AIDS, and what it means to be HIV possitive. It isn't uncommon to find that many link AIDS with death or horribe diseases, when nowadays that is far from being true. Yes, HIV may cause AIDS, which in turn increases significantly your chances of becoming sick and having a bad time with your infections, much less able to recover, but there is treatment available for HIV possitive people. If treatment is correctly taken, not only can a person have a life expectancy and quality on par with HIV negatives, but also the virus can become less contagious.
HIV medicine is called anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and involves taking a series of medicines daily for the rest of your life, and you can start at any point of your infection. In other words, it doesn't matter if you have carried the HIV with you for years, you can still get started with HIV treatment. ART decreases your chances of becoming sick, developing AIDS, and passing the virus to other people. This medication lowers the count of viruses on your bloodstream.
However, it is indispensable that you take your medication just as prescribed, and the sooner you start with it, the less complications you will experience due to the effectos of HIV activity in your body. There are thousands of HIV possitive people in the United Kingdom who are unaware of it, and the virus can spread around with sexual contact and blood contact. By getting treated for HIV, they can have a much better life quality and expectancy, but in order to find out they carry the virus they have to get tested.
You no longer need to pay for an appointment or wait at a clinic in order to get tested for HIV. Now you can do it in the privacy of your home with a mail test kit, which is absolutely legal and certified in the United Kingdom. Online clinics provide easy HIV test kits; in example, theSTIclinic.com can arrange a screen with 4 hour results, or you can get a fast HIV test from a sexual health charity. Remember that these first line tests are never deffinitive, so if you get a possitive result you have to confirm it with a blood test taken at a clinic.
These tests are simple and cheap and you can perform them on you own with no special training or equipment. All you will need to do is swab the inner side of your cheek or prick your finger and send a drop of blood to your clinic. Your samples will be tested and you will get a fast result, often in a message which will get sent to your phone. It's easy, it's fast, and you can have the results in a very short time. If you have an active sex life in which you change partners, your partner is HIV possitive and/or you are a man who has sex with men, you are advised to take this test at least once every three months.