Founded in the mid-1980s, Vermont CARES emerged in response to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. Recognizing the urgent need for resources, education, and support in Vermont, a group of dedicated individuals established the organization to provide essential services and support. The agency began providing services to the HIV positive community of Vermont in 1985. At this point in the epidemic, there was much uncertainty about the future of the community and what could be done to help those diagnosed with HIV, people were dying at alarming rates then.
The HIV+ Speakers Bureau was created in 1992 to educate, inspire, and raise awareness about the services, mission, and impact of Vermont CARES in the community from the personal perspective of people living with HIV.
Over the years, Vermont CARES has:
- Expanded Services: From initial beginnings providing support, HIV testing & prevention education the organization has grown to offer a range of services, including case management, emergency financial assistance, syringe service programming, overdose prevention and support groups.
- Advocacy: Vermont CARES has been a vocal advocate for the rights and needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and for people who use drugs, pushing for policy changes, increased funding, and broader public awareness.
- Community Engagement: Through events, outreach programs, and partnerships, Vermont CARES has fostered a strong community presence, ensuring that those we work with in Vermont have a supportive network.
- Innovation: Adapting to the changing landscape of the HIV/AIDS and drug use, Vermont CARES has introduced innovative programs, such as mobile delivery services, a custom mobile application and community drug checking to address the evolving needs of the community.
Today, Vermont CARES stands as a testament to the power of community action, dedication, and resilience in the face of public health crisis. The organization continues its mission to support, educate, and advocate for the marginalized communities of people who use drugs and those living with HIV.