November 30, 2011
The Vermont Department of Health is encouraging Vermonters to get tested for HIV and know their status, as part of December 1 World AIDS Day, a global effort to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS.
As of December 2010, there are 399 Vermonters living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Of these, 238 have an AIDS diagnosis. An estimated 100 Vermonters are infected with HIV but unaware of their status.
Early diagnosis and treatment for those who are infected can control the virus and prevent it from being passed on to others. New medicines can lower the level of virus in the body, and can keep a person with HIV healthy and able to lead a long life.
“In the last year, we’ve assisted 312 people with HIV/AIDS access medication assistance, mental health and nutrition counseling, and helped them to understand how important it is to adhere to a treatment program. These efforts are designed to both improve health outcomes and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus,” said Daniel Daltry, care chief for the Health Department's HIV/AIDS/STD/Hepatitis Program.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 45 percent of people with HIV nationwide who are receiving medical care also access counseling services that can improve their overall health.
HIV is spread primarily through sex and syringe sharing. A mother with HIV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Women who are considering pregnancy, or who are pregnant, are encouraged to ask their healthcare provider about HIV testing. Anyone who shares a syringe or who is sexually active with multiple partners is encouraged to seek HIV testing.
HIV Prevention programs in Vermont are delivered at the individual, group and community level to people at highest risk. Syringe exchange and anonymous HIV prevention counseling, testing and referral are also available.
The Health Department's HIV/AIDS/STD/Hepatitis Program manages funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources Services Administration and the State of Vermont to help people affected by HIV/AIDS. Services range from medical case management for people living with the virus, to HIV prevention counseling and testing programs for those who don’t know their status.
Agencies funded by the Health Department work with gay and bisexual men to develop community prevention programming to address their needs.
Key partners in care and support services include Vermont CARES, AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, the HIV/HCV Resource Network, the Comprehensive Care Clinics, Twin States Network and the Vermont People with AIDS Coalition. Partners in prevention include Spectrum Youth and Family Services, HowardCenter Safe Recovery, New Alpha Baptist Church, Association of Africans Living in Vermont, Outright Vermont and R.U.1.2? Community Center.
For information on HIV support, care, testing or prevention programs, call toll-free within Vermont 800-882-AIDS (800-882-2437), Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
You can also visit www.healthvermont.gov or www.getttestedvermont.com(exit VDH).
Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: November 30, 2011 16:08:03