March 8 (UPI) — More than 100 people have contracted HIV, syphilis — or both — in Milwaukee, including some high school students and three newborn babies, health officials said.
In one of the largest sexually transmitted “clusters” in the city’s history, health care experts anticipate that the number affected could increase as more people come forward.
“This is an epidemic people are not talking about enough, and it leads to people taking unnecessary risks,” public health consultant Melissa Ugland told The Journal Sentinel.
“Troubling public health news, there has been an increase in new cases of HIV/Syphilis,” the Milwaukee Health Department tweeted. “Sadly this included infants in 2017.”
According to the department, persons between the ages of 15 and 24 make up 37 percent of the HIV cases in Milwaukee, while those 20 to 29 make up 57 percent of the syphilis cases.
Most of those affected are men, with 45 percent being HIV-positive.
The Milwaukee Health Department is launching a campaign on the city’s public transit system to inform riders and combat sexually transmitted diseases.
Commuters will begin hearing ads playing on buses starting on Sunday.
“If someone is on a bus and they hear this message we’d like to hope that if it resonates with them, they take that next step,” Brendan Conway, chief marketing and communications officer, said, adding that he hoped the ads would reach thousands of commuters.