Vermont is the sixth smallest U.S. state in terms of total area and the second least populated state of the country. According to the census data, 2020, the state had a total population of 643,503 individuals. Considering the HIV statistics in Vermont reported in the 2015 HIV Surveillance report by Centers for Disease and Control, (CDC) Vermont was ranked as the state having the least number of cases throughout the country. Vermont Stood at 50th among the 50 U.S. states for having the least number of adults and adolescents newly diagnosed with HIV.
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HIV is a virus that attacks and destroys a body’s immune system, leaving it vulnerable to several other germs. HIV can quickly spread through unprotected sex, using needles contaminated with the virus, and even from an HIV-positive mother to her child through breast milk.
An HIV test is by far the only valid method for the detection of the virus. There are three main types of HI V tests. The antibody test, HIV antigen test, and the viral load test. If any of the first two tests come out positive for HIV, A viral load test is taken to measure the amount of HIV in the patient's blood. A viral load test is also used in routine to check the HIV patients.
Centers for Disease and Control recommends that individuals between the ages 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. Adults and adolescents who belong to a risk group, such as gay males, heterosexual males, anyone who has multiple sexual partners, and individuals using injectable drugs, are recommended to get tested once every year as a part of their routine checkup.
Delays in testing can cause the virus to progress to AIDS, which becomes incurable and life-threatening. Early diagnosis of HIV and timely treatment can result in better outcomes for the patient. Due to the advancement in the treatment options, if the virus is diagnosed in the early stages, the chances of HIV-related mortality are considerably reduced.
Considering data from Vermont Health Department, health care centers across the states have been receiving HIV-positive patients, anywhere between 500 to 600, 70 % of whom haven’t been previously diagnosed. This has been a cause of particular concern for the health authorities as the numbers are slightly noticeable considering the state's small population.
According to the HIV Surveillance report, 2014 by the Vermont Department of Health, a total of 665 adults and adolescents were known to be living with HIV/AIDS in the state. The rate of HIV-positive patients per 100,000 population was 106. Of the people living with HIV, 60%ofthe people lived in Vermont at the time of their diagnosis.
In the State health profile by CDC, 2015, the total number of new diagnoses in the state was 11, making Vermont rank at 50th of the 50 U.S. states. Considering the data from 2017, the total number of people living with HIV in Vermont was 678, with 18 cases reported during the same year. There was an 83% viral suppression among the people living with HIV in Vermont, and 43% of the newly diagnosed cases were those of gay or bisexual men. AIDSVu data, 2018, shows that during 2018 18 people were newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS making the total number of people living with HIV in Vermont to 711.
The Health Vermont by the government of Vermont has specialized programs for the treatment and care of HIV patients. The Health Department of Vermont has partnered with CDC and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to facilitate the HIV patients in the state. The program offers primary medical care and support facilities like case management, medical nutrition therapy, and outpatient ambulatory care.
AIDS Project, Southern Vermont is another initiative to reduce the newly diagnosed cases of HIV and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV in Vermont. The project offers both preventive services as well as services for people already diagnosed. For HIV patients, this project offers case management services, healthy living food programs, financial assistance, and access to health insurance for uninsured or underinsured patients.
The University of Vermont Medical Center has four comprehensive care clinics in different locations of the state. These clinics across the state offer services like free HIV testing, prevention counseling, confidential services, and state-of-the-art medical care facilities.
Data from the AIDSVu report indicates that in 2018 there were a total of 711 people living with HIV in Vermont. The numbers according to the HIV surveillance report were 665 in 2014. The numbers have risen slowly, which is mainly a cause of concern. The total number of new diagnoses in 2018 was 18, and the new diagnosis rate per 100,000 was 3.
The rate of HIV per 100,000 in 2018 was 130. Out of the total people living with HIV, 81.4% were males, and 18.6% were females. 73.8% of the people living with HIV in Vermont were white Americans, 10.1% were Black or African Americans, and 8.9% were Hispanic or Latino.
46% of the people living with HIV were aged 55 and above, 28.7% belonged to the age group 45 to 54 years, and 14.5% were 35 to 44 years. Of the total numbers, 7.6% were 25 to 35 years, and 3.2% were between 13 to 24 years.
According to the reports from AIDSVu, the total number of HIV-related mortalities in Vermont during 2018 was 11. The rate of HIV-related death per 100,000 population was 2. Considering the modes of transmission, the same report indicates that 72.5% of the males contracted HIV through male to male sexual contact, 5.9% of males having HIV contracted the virus from heterosexual contact, while 8.5% transmission of the virus in male categories was due to contaminated injection use. The most popular transmission mode in females was heterosexual contact (61.7%), and 33.8% of the HIV transmission was due to contaminated injection use.