For Immediate Release: Dec. 1, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – The 20th Annual World AIDS Day will be recognized in Vermont today at the 12 district offices of the Vermont Department of Health.
The Health Department will encourage HIV testing and prevention, as early detection and medical care can greatly reduce the risk of spreading the virus and enable people to live longer, healthier lives.
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.
HIV is spread primarily through sex and syringe sharing. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that approximately 56,300 people were newly infected with HIV. The CDC data showed 56 percent of all new infections were from male-to-male sexual contact, 31 percent from heterosexual contact, and 12 percent from injection drug use.
Twice as many people in the 30-40 age range are diagnosed than people ages 20-30, and the highest number of people diagnosed were in the 40-44 age range, according to CDC data.
“We need to continue to dispel myths about this disease, for example, HIV is not transmitted through casual contact; sharing utensils or a telephone,” said Rob Lunn, MPA, HIV/AIDS program director for the Vermont Department of Health. “Another myth is that HIV is not of concern in Vermont. HIV is a concern worldwide. People need to recognize their risk for HIV infection and take action. We can help Vermonters who share needles or take sexual risks get tested and take precautions to protect themselves. We also have programs to help people stop their risk-taking behaviors.”
Globally, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981.
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 and info on HIV prevention programs.
People can contact testing locations directly for information on clinic hours, types of tests available or to schedule appointments.
For information on World AIDS Day visit http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/