National HIV Testing Day - June 27 Campaign to Encourage Voluntary Counseling and Testing

For Immediate Release

Date: June 24, 2005

Contact: Susanna Weller, MPH.
HIV Prevention Supervisor
HIV/AIDS Program
802- 863-7245

BURLINGTON - National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), sponsored by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), will take place June 27. The annual event, now in its 11th year, encourages people at risk for HIV infection to “take the test, take control.” The Vermont Department of Health partners with NAPWA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local community organizations to promote voluntary HIV antibody testing.

“While taking precautions and avoiding risky behaviors to stop the spread of HIV is essential,” said Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Paul Jarris, “getting tested and knowing your HIV status is another important part of protecting one’s health.”

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. According to the CDC, some 180,000 to 280,000 people in the United States are living with HIV and do not know they are infected. For individuals who are HIV positive, getting tested is often the first step in taking control of their lives and health. 

“Knowledge is power,” said Dr. Jarris. “Treatment options for HIV are more effective now than ever before, and people who get into treatment early are better able to manage HIV infection and delay the onset of AIDS. Testing and knowing their status helps people living with HIV make choices that could dramatically improve their quality of life.” 

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 this 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 from within Vermont 800-882-AIDS (800-882-2437) or for hearing impaired TTY access, dial 800-319-3141 (open weekdays from 8:30-4:30). 

For information 24/7 visit www.healthyvermonters.info or call the National AIDS Hotline at 800-342-2437.