A report from CNN says cases of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Milwaukee is seeing an unexpected spike in cases of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to health officials.
There are high incidence rates in communities with larger vulnerable populations, including men who have sex with men, ethnic minorities, injection drug users and women, especially those who have been trafficked or who work in the sex trade, city Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia McManus said this week.
Three Milwaukee children born with syphilis were identified in 2017, McManus said. “It rarely occurs,” she said, and “the last known single case was in 2012.” This “sentinel event” — an unexpected and dramatic occurrence — is a cause for concern, she said.
According to the report, spokeswoman for the department of health indicates a 13% increase in new cases of HIV compared with 2016, a 29% increase in syphilis, a 12% increase in gonorrhea and a 0.5% increase in chlamydia.
Late last year, 76 connected people tested positive for HIV, syphilis or both, according to Angela Hagy, director of Disease Control and Environmental Health for the City of Milwaukee Health Department.
From the report: Of the 76 cases, 19 individuals tested positive for syphilis only, 33 tested positive for HIV only, and 24 tested positive for both syphilis and HIV. An additional 25 people who were part of this network tested negative for both, and the status is unknown for 26 people who either refused to get tested or could not be contacted by health officials.
In Pennsylvania, Nate Wardle, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said there has been a “threefold increase in the number of new HIV diagnoses in Beaver County between 2016 (4) and 2017 (11). The number of HIV cases in the state also rose, going from 1,186 in 2016 to 1,244 in 2017.
From CNN: “The spike in cases was predominately seen in men who have sex with men,” [Wardle] said. “However, through our investigation, we are looking to determine if other risk behaviors may be involved.”
Beaver County also reported a 35% increase in reported gonorrhea and a 12.5% increase in early syphilis, the most infectious stage of the disease. “These increases have been predominately noted in the same populations experiencing the HIV increase,” he said.
Wardle reportedly said” “Due to concurrent increases in syphilis and gonorrhea, physicians are being encouraged to not only offer HIV testing but STD testing as well.”