For Immediate Release: November 30, 2006
Contact: Rob Lunn, MPA
HIV/AIDS Program Director
800-882-2437 or 802-863-7245
BURLINGTON, VT – The Vermont Department of Health’s 12 district offices are raising awareness about HIV/AIDS as part of World AIDS Day on Friday, December 1. Public health nurses across the state have recorded radio public service announcements, created health newsletter inserts and designed displays promoting HIV testing, prevention messages and the state’s HIV/AIDS hotline.
“World AIDS Day provides a unique opportunity for the Health Department to highlight the global impact of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, while promoting Vermont’s HIV/AIDS care, service and prevention programs,” says Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN.
As of September 30, 2006, 438 Vermonters are known to be living with HIV or AIDS. The CDC estimates that another 110 Vermonters are living with HIV/AIDS and do not know it.
HIV is spread primarily through sex and needle or syringe sharing. Women who are considering pregnancy or who are pregnant are also encouraged to ask their medical provider about HIV testing. 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.
According to the World AIDS Day Campaign, World AIDS Day was first declared by the World Health Organization and the United Nations General Assembly in 1988, and has become one of the most successful international days for raising awareness.
“Early detection through testing and access to medical care are vitally important for those infected with HIV,” says Moffatt. “Advancements in treatment have helped many people with HIV live fuller, longer and healthier lives.”
In Brattleboro, the local public health nurse collaborated with the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont and the River Gallery School to offer a “Making Art for World AIDS Day” workshop for people living with HIV/AIDS. “The art will be displayed in four locations at Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk the evening of World AIDS Day,” said Kathleen White, RN. “Our goal is to bring attention to the AIDS epidemic and provide a healing experience for those living with HIV.”
The Newport District Office will set up a display at the state office building that highlights the impact of HIV/AIDS world wide.
“We’ve also included information about testing resources for people concerned about their HIV risk, both locally and across Vermont,” said Barbara Thompson, RN at the Newport District Office.
According to the United Nations, the global HIV epidemic continues to expand, with 39.5 million people now estimated to have HIV. An estimated 2.9 million people died from the virus within the last year, and another 4.3 million people became infected, according to a U.N. update recently published.
To learn more about HIV/AIDS or find out about HIV testing and other Vermont resources, call toll-free in-state 800-882-AIDS (800-882-2437). For hearing impaired TTY access, dial 800-319-3141 (open weekdays from 8:30-4:30).
For information 24/7 visit http://healthvermont.gov or call the National CDC Health Information Hotline at 800-232-4636.
For more information on World AIDS Day visit http://www.worldaidscampaign.info.