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Saturday, Nov 24th 5pm “Night Thoughts” in Montpelier

We are very grateful for this Saturday’s concert, at the Bethany Church at 115 Main Street in Montpelier, performed by Vermont native pianist Adam Tendler.  Concert starts at 5pm, with a suggested donation of $10 with proceeds to benefit Vermont CARES.

Pianist portrait

Recently lauded by the Los Angeles Times as “an exuberantly expressive pianist” who “vividly displayed his enthusiasm for every phrase,” Tendler will perform works by Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Samuel Barber, John Adams, David Lang, Anthony Porter, and a sixteen-movement suite by Ned Rorem of music composed for his late partner during their 32-year relationship. Tendler will also present a short work of his own and a set of pieces by John Cage. Recognized as a leading Cage interpreter, Tendler has toured nationwide with the experimental composer’s music since 2007, including a solo appearance this year at New York City’s Symphony Space on what would have been Cage’s 100th birthday.

We have heard amazing things about Adam’s performances, and we encourage you to join us in attending!


Job Opening at Vermont CARES: Development Director

Vermont CARES is hiring!  Come join our terrific team, with a position based out of Burlington, Vermont.  Details and how to apply:

Development Director: Full time management level position.  Vermont CARES seeks an experienced, resourceful, and self-motivated individual to lead agency fundraising activities including special events, donor development, communications, and corporate giving.  We are looking for a dynamic individual with demonstrated fundraising success to secure substantial new revenue to advance our growing organization’s mission.  Applicants must be able to communicate the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and related social and economic factors.  Salary range: $41,000- $45,000; superlative benefits package including medical/dental insurance.  Cover letter/resume by November 30, 2012 to Peter Jacobsen, Executive Director, Vermont CARES, P.O. Box 5248, Burlington, VT  05402


Possible Risk to HIV Housing: Sequestration in 2013

Many AIDS advocates around the country have written over the past week about the impending consequences – as yet avoidable – of the federal budget cuts due  in January 2013 as a result of Congress’ financial stalemate last year.  The impact to people with HIV could be very serious indeed, and even more serious for lower-income or homeless people with HIV. 

The White House released last month projections as to what federal programs would be most likely impacted, and one of the programs to be cut would be HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS).  In Vermont, this program helps Vermont CARES and other housing allies keep around 100 Vermonters with HIV/AIDS housed each year.  A cut of nearly 10% would have serious impacts on our neighbors and leaders with HIV. 

More information on the effects of sequestration can be found at the following links:

We will post more tangible action steps to protect Vermonters with HIV/AIDS as we learn more, and as the effects of these looming budget cuts are clarified.  Vermont CARES’ supporters have been terrific at advocating for people with HIV/AIDS, so we will ask for your help again as we map out a plan.


HIV Treatment as Prevention Tool

New data has been released suggesting that HIV treatment is one of the single most effective tools for slowing the spread of HIV – with the possibility of reducing risk of transmission by over 90%.  (To be clear, this is separate from the concept of HIV treatment for those not already infected, as cited here.)  Vermont CARES works with hundreds of Vermonters annually to help ensure their medication is available and taken routinely, and we have long known the health benefits to those we serve. 

In the broader scope, however, we see even more benefit to HIV treatment, as borne out in this data.  Routine HIV treatment is vital to reducing the amount of HIV virus present in the human body, of course; the amount of HIV is commonly called a person’s “viral load”.  For those with fewer copies of the virus, they  are additionally less likely to transmit the virus to people with whom they have sexual or blood-to-blood contact.  Fewer copies of HIV in a person means fewer copies they can transmit to another person. 

We have seen similar risk reduction in mother-to-child HIV prevention for years.  For expectant mothers with HIV, taking HIV treatment prior to birth can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their child by a factor of 12 – lowering the risk to 2% or less. 

 If universal HIV treatment – consistently offered and consistently taken – can lead to fewer chances of spreading the virus to others, we see even more reason to make this treatment available.  Vermont is a very strong state in this regard; making HIV medications available to nearly all who need it.  Many doctors working in the field of HIV treatment have begun recommending HIV treatment start immediately upon learning one’s HIV status as a result of this new data – a shift from a previous treatment strategy that encouraged treatment “as needed.” 

 More information, and source material, on this story here.


Rapid HIV Testing: Available Soon at Home

While Vermont CARES certainly lauds new tools for Vermonters to get tested for HIV, we also remain strong advocates for the counseling, conversation, and risk reduction that comes with getting an HIV test with a trained HIV testing counselor. 

You may have heard recently about OraSure’s rapid-result HIV test – called OraQuick – coming up for sale soon for home use.  This is, happily, the same test kit that we use in our offices and we find this technology effective, easy-to-use, and accurate. 

However, so much of what makes HIV testing valuable lies in the conversation you can have with your HIV counselor when you meet with one of our staff.  As a non-judgmental person who can listen to your potential HIV transmission risks, and answer whatever questions you might have, HIV counseling is one of the most effective means of actually stopping the spread of the virus.  Learn more about HIV testing with Vermont CARES, and see a map of our offices, here: 

So much of what we may hear out in the community – through online forums, or even from some trained medical professionals – may not really give you the information you need, nor the support or encouragement (just that little bit!) that you might need to actually make changes to keep yourself safer moving forward. 

More information, and source material, on this story here:


Medication May Protect HIV-Negative Individuals from Infection

Last week, the FDA approved a long-used HIV-fighting medication, Truvada, as a new HIV prevention tool.  This is a major shift toward the medicalization of HIV prevention, and it uncovers a big dilemma in stopping the spread of HIV. 

In the near future, certain people at high risk of HIV may be able to procure a prescription for this medication through their medical provider.  Taken daily, this HIV medication may reduce some individuals’ risk of HIV infection by as much as 90%.  This is a tremendous benefit to those at risk, but it is not without challenge.  A major obstacle for many is that, as with HIV treatment for those who are HIV-positive, this medication must be taken daily.  That may not be feasible for some.  Additionally, the medication is tremendously expensive, and we are unsure at this point which insurance companies may or may not be willing to pay for this preventive medication.  Lastly, the real benefit of this medication lies within the context of other HIV prevention methods, such as routine HIV testing and condom or other barrier use. 

That said, for those at risk of HIV infection who are appropriate candidates for the prescription, and who can get the medication paid for, this may be a life-saving HIV prevention tool.  As we learn more about this, and how it can be implemented in Vermont, we will post more information about it and keep you updated.  In the meantime, we recommend you speak with your medical provider if you have more specific questions about whether this is a good fit for you as CDC and other medical officials figure out how to launch this program. 

More information, and source material, on this story here:


HIV Rates Lowered by Syringe Exchange

 Over the years, we have posted whatever data we could find about the effectiveness of Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP’s) in reducing HIV rates among people who might otherwise share needles.  Previous data has suggested that for every 30,000 syringes exchanged, 3 lives were saved by averting exposure to HIV.  SEP’s clearly have other health benefits too, since sharing or reusing syringes can be harmful to health for reasons other than the transmission of blood borne pathogens. 

This week at the International AIDS Conference, we saw evidence that these programs may do more than save a limited number of lives; they may all but eliminate HIV infections among people who use injection drugs!  New York City and Amsterdam are listed as cities which have seen dramatic decreases in new HIV infection rates for injection drug users because of robust SEP’s. 

Vermont CARES is proud to operate a busy and growing syringe exchange out of our St. Johnsbury office.  More information can be found here:


More information, and source material, on this story here:


February 2012: A Tribute To The Play, “The Vagina Monologues”, by Eve Ensler: In A Time Of AIDS

We’re happy to present a review of “The Vagina Monologues” for this February, with our thanks to writer Todd Miller of Burlington.  As we learn more about local performances of this piece in Vermont, we’ll post and let you know!

A Tribute To The Play, “The Vagina Monologues”, by Eve Ensler:  In A Time Of AIDS

The month of February encompasses National V-Day which is a global movement to end violence against women and girls.  Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues”.  Performances of this play will take place this spring at the University Of Vermont, and the actual date and times are soon to be released.  Please check out local newspapers for the announcement of this production, or contact the University Of Vermont’s Women’s Center.

The play makes the assertion that women are sexually repressed.  It is read and performed as essential monologue: direct, poignant and profound.  The play is also metaphor for how the vagina has been used and abused in the repression of women as sex objects.  Eve Ensler writes tenaciously over the need for the vagina to be funny and sad both.  There is great wit and wisdom in the writing and the sharing of the play, as so.  The audience sees the strength of the play, the telltale heart for women to shape by.

These monologues advance the theory that objectification of women is a form of violence and hatred.  Women are and have always been sexual beings, and thus it is painful to see this treatment of womanhood.  Women in this play express frank pain and strength over the loss (and finding) of their own sexual identity.  The play reels with the image of the vagina as truth to the human condition of feeling that no end is in sight to the exploits of the vagina and to being a woman.

As I see it, there is also a need for humanity to put an end to the sexual repression of women, and make way for freedom of expression.  For instance, for me, as a gay man, writing this article.  Because that notion makes the threat of AIDS very real.  AIDS is often contracted through the kinds of sexual repression that women feel in “The Vagina Monologues”.  Women are then wrongfully exploited as sexual beings, and HIV is passed along, with harmful intent to do so.

People need to survive as healthy human beings, based on who they are and what they do with their lives.  The Vagina Monologues imbues for, and is testimony to, those beliefs.

There are alarming statistics on how women contract AIDS through exploitation.  The fight against AIDS is consistent with the rite of passage for women, as human beings and sexual beings alike.  Therefore, the AIDS epidemic cannot be addressed without the reality of AIDS being understood alongside sexuality and the imperative to value women fully.  Subsequently, the themes of “The Vagina Monologues” are to be lived out, and to be clearly understood as a life force for women to reckon with in a time of AIDS.


Getting Excited for 12/1/11 Reading of “The Normal Heart”

We’re getting really excited for next month’s reading of Larry Kramer’s famous AIDS play, “The Normal Heart.”  Dan Butler directs this searing, angry, beautiful play set in the first few years of the epidemic, and proceeds from the night benefit Vermont CARES and our colleagues at the HIV/Hepatitis Resource Center. 

One of our great volunteers, Todd Miller, read and review “The Normal Heart” for us.  We’ve excerpted his review below: enjoy, and feel free to comment!  (We hope to see you in Randolph on December 1st too!) 


    “An Uncommon Point Of View”:  Taking A Look At The Play, “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer

“The Normal Heart”, by Larry Kramer, was written in 1985, as a play of concern about the origins of AIDS in New York City.  I found it to be as fast moving, as it is readable.  This play, “The Normal Heart” is being put on for World’s AIDS Day, December 1, 2011, in Randolph.  Vermont CARES feels it will be of meaning and value to take a look at the play, with this review, as the uncommon view about the past, present and future of AIDS in America.

 When AIDS first hit New York City, back in the early 1980’s, very few cared one way or the other.  There were about a million LGBTQ people in New York City, and the threat of AIDS was real the world over.  The numbers were small and unexplained at first.  And since AIDS was already an epidemic, because it was real threat, spanning the globe, it was also unexplained as a social disease, by and large.

The play is fine-tuned to clearly show the cast of characters of the play:  young, successful, white, gay men living with AIDS. They also realize that AIDS is already an insidious epidemic, with a growth potential to match. The entire cast of characters of the play (which only includes one woman, the doctor of the AIDS clinic) specifically care about the political cause, for the need of medical concern and the prevention of AIDS. The fact that they have AIDS is important to these men, but the fact that they really having a bleeding heart for the lives of all people, given the threat of AIDS the world over, is of far more importance.

So this is not only a suitable play to go see, and really take home with you, on December 1, 2011, World AIDS Day, it really portends to be the uncommon point of view about the hard line about AIDS in the here and now:

“.  . . I spent fifteen years of my life fighting for our right to be free and make love whenever, wherever . . . And you’re telling me that all those years of what being gay stood for it wrong . . . and I’m a murderer.  We have been so oppressed!  Don’t you remember how it was?  Can’t you see how important it is for us to love openly, without hiding and without guilt?” (p.103)

 “The Normal Heart” is about the insurgence of AIDS as it started to affect the people of the world, not only the gay population of New York City in the 1980’s. Pregnant women, women of Africa, peoples of all color the world over had AIDS then, as they do now. 

Nobody knows why powers that be didn’t intervene to stop or slow the spread of the virus, as they do today. It is hard to know why AIDS was not an immediate and nationwide concern at the time of this play: therefore, as a theme, it is a very good question for the work to ponder over.  “The Normal Heart”, as a play, is the need for the uncommon point of view.  The play is also to resonate as the legitimate, uncommon point of view, over the real scare of AIDS today, in hope of someday finding a cure for this epidemic at long last.


Vermont Pride Coordinator 2012: Application Information

Vermont CARES is very proud to be partnering with other Vermont-based community organizations to sponsor Vermont Pride 2012.  To get our committee rallied, we are looking for a Pride Coordinator.  Position description and instructions below:

WANTED: Energetic, organized, dynamic individual to oversee the Vermont Pride Committee. Outright Vermont, RU12? Community Center, and Vermont CARES are teaming up to find a chair to help make Pride 2012 a successful event. A small stipend will be awarded.
Responsibilities include:  

  •   Oversight of the Pride Committee and facilitation of meetings
  •   Oversight and support of fundraising for Pride  
  •   Working with the fiduciary (Outright Vermont) to track the budget  
  •   Coordination with the City of Burlington and other venues to schedule and secure permits for Pride events  
  •   Management of publicity  
  •   Facilitating communication and organization of partners in Pride

Interested? Email a brief letter of interest and a resume to by Friday November 4, 2011.


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