For Immediate Release: June 25, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – National HIV Testing Day is Friday, June 27. The Vermont Department of Health reminds Vermonters who are at risk to consider getting tested for the HIV antibody.
“With an estimated one out of four HIV-positive Americans unaware of their infection, increasing the opportunities for testing are critical,” said Health Department Medical Director Donald R. Swartz, MD. “Knowing your status is an important part of protecting your health. People who are treated early for HIV are better able to manage the infection and delay the onset of AIDS.”
Testing is available in Health Department district offices in Bennington, Newport, Rutland, St. Albans, and at the Health Department central office in downtown Burlington.
“We sponsor free HIV antibody testing at more than 40 sites around Vermont,” said Rob Lunn, MPA, director of the HIV/AIDS/STD/Hepatitis C Program for the Health Department “While this service is available year round, National HIV Testing Day provides an opportunity to highlight the importance for Vermonters at risk for HIV to get tested.”
The Burlington office at 108 Cherry Street will be providing tests by appointment on Thursday, June 26, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. A special walk-in clinic will be held at the Newport District Office from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on June 27.
“We also support testing through a variety of community partner sites, including AIDS service organizations such as Vermont CARES in Burlington, Rutland and St. Johnsbury, or the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont offices in Brattleboro and Bennington,” Lunn said. “There are also medical clinics where a person can be tested anonymously such as Open Door Clinic in Middlebury and the Community Health Center in Burlington.”
Most sites provide OraSure™ testing where a test sample of oral fluid is collected and sent to the Health Department laboratory for analysis. Test results are ready within one to two weeks.
Other testing locations offer both OraSure™ and OraQuick ADVANCE™ rapid tests. OraQuick ADVANCE™ is an HIV antibody screening technology that can provide an accurate negative test result or a preliminary positive result in as little as 20 minutes. A negative result indicates that a person is either not infected with HIV, or has been tested too soon after infection before detectable levels of HIV antibodies have developed. A positive rapid test indicates that the person likely has HIV, though that result must be confirmed by conventional tests processed at the Health Department lab.
Anyone interested in HIV antibody testing can ask their health care provider for a confidential test. People who would like free, anonymous HIV testing supported by the Health Department can call the Vermont AIDS Hotline, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at 1-800-882-2437 to speak with a counselor. Or visit healthvermont.gov for testing locations. People can contact testing locations directly for information on clinic hours, types of tests available or to schedule appointments.
Vermont has an HIV/AIDS case rate that is among the lowest in the nation. As of December 31, 2007, there were 482 people who have HIV/AIDS known to be living in Vermont, and an estimated 150 or more residents living with the virus that have not been diagnosed.
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 visit healthvermont.gov for testing locations.