How many Vermonters are living with HIV?

May 15, 2013

It sounds like an easy question, but for years, it’s been difficult to come up with this number. The Center for Disease Control collects accurate federal numbers for the whole country, but their individual state numbers are flawed. For Vermont, the CDC counts only people who were diagnosed in Vermont. If you were diagnosed in New York, and move to Vermont, you are still “owned” by New York. According to the CDC, Vermont “owns” only 420 Vermonters living with HIV/AIDS. We know from data collected at our Retreat that there are many, many Vermonters who were diagnosed in another state. For federal purposes, however, they don’t count as Vermonters.

 

Using the Unique Identifiers for Vermonters with HIV and AIDS, the Vermont Department of Health has been able to come up with better, but not perfect figures. 588 Vermonters are receiving Ryan White services at AIDS Service Organizations or Comprehensive Care Clinics. Using CDC estimates, they estimate that 162 Vermonters are HIV+ but do not know that they are positive. This gives us a total of 750 HIV+ Vermonters.

 

However, Ryan White services are available only to low-income Vermonters. Some HIV+ Vermonters do not belong to an ASO and receive medical care at Dartmouth Hitchcock, private doctors, or the Veterans Administration. These Vermonters are not counted in the 750 number. The Department of Health estimates that 10-20 Vermonters haven’t been counted, but there may be more.

 

So, do we now have a perfect “number”? Not yet, but it’s a more accurate range. We can confidently say that 750-800 Vermonters are living with HIV/AIDS.

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