For Immediate Release: June 26, 2006
Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health continues its drive to stop the spread of HIV by encouraging people to take precautions, avoid risky behaviors and participate in the 11th annual National HIV Testing Day, Thursday, June 27.
Vermont has an AIDS case rate that is among the lowest in the nation (47th lowest) and the number of AIDS diagnoses has decreased between 1999 and 2004. At the end of 2004 there were 430 known cases of HIV/AIDS in Vermont and an estimated 116 residents living with the virus that have not been diagnosed.
“Getting tested and knowing your status is an important part of protecting your health,” said Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN, interim commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health. “People who are treated early for HIV are better able to manage the infection and delay the onset of AIDS.
“A voluntary HIV antibody test should be encouraged - not just on National Testing Day – but consistently and steadily by community based organizations, public health officials and primary care providers,” Moffatt said.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. According to the CDC, 180,000 to 280,000 people in the United States are living with HIV and do not know they are infected.
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, although early intervention and medical care can greatly reduce the risk. Women who are considering pregnancy or who are pregnant are encouraged to ask their medical providers about HIV testing.
For information on HIV testing, call toll free within Vermont 800-882-AIDS (800-882-2437) or for hearing impaired TTY access, dial 800-319-3141 (open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). For more information visit healthvermont.gov or call the National AIDS Hotline at 800-342-2437.