WAMC News, North Country News
5:19 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Health Department Encouraging HIV Testing

The head of the Vermont Health Department was publically tested for HIV Tuesday.  It’s part of the Department’s effort to encourage individual HIV testing across the state

Vermont Health Commissioner Harry Chen was at  Fletcher Allen Health Care Tuesday to get some blood drawn, while State Epidemiologist for Infectious Diseases Patsy Kelso accompanied him to have a swab test taken.  Kelso says she and Dr. Chen wanted to show how simple and straightforward it is to be tested for HIV.

Vermont People With AIDS Coalition Program Administrator Kathy Kilcourse says they were very happy to see the public testing.

There are about 600 Vermonters being treated for HIV or AIDS and the state is considered a low-incidence state.  Never-the-less, the Health Department’s Patsy Kelso says prevention messages have not been entirely successful, and there’s a new strategy encouraging testing.

The public testing of Vermont’s top health officials was done as the Health Department launches a new campaign: 11years.org.  Patsy Kelso explains that the website publishes information on the virus, early diagnosis, testing locations and services for those who test positive.

Again, the Vermont People With AIDS Coalition’s Kathy Kilcourse.

The Vermont Health Department provides free, anonymous HIV testing at 30 sites statewide.