Vermont Health Department urging HIV tests

HIVBURLINGTON, Vt.: The Health Department is urging all Vermonters to get tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, at least once in their lives and yearly for people considered to be at high risk of acquiring the virus.

June 27 was National HIV Testing Day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nationally about 16 percent of people living with the virus don’t know that they have it. It can take about 11 years from when people become infected before symptoms present themselves.

“While there is no cure for HIV, there are medications available to treat the condition,” said state infectious disease epidemiologist Patsy Kelso. “Treatment can improve health and prolong life – and it can reduce the amount of virus in the bloodstream which can greatly reduce your chance of spreading HIV to others.”

The state recommends that most people should be tested for HIV at least once. People at higher risk for infection who should be tested yearly include injection-drug users and their sex partners, persons who exchange sex for money or drugs, sex partners of people who are HIV-infected, and men who have sex with men or heterosexuals who have had multiple sex partners since their last HIV test.

“Getting tested for HIV provides valuable information that can help stop its spread,” said Kelso. “When people find out that they have the virus they can take action to prevent passing it on to others.” -AP