The number of new HIV cases in Wisconsin is on the rise and disproportionately affecting African-American men.
There are about 8,300 people in Wisconsin living with HIV. About 1,700 of those people have no idea they’re infected. That’s according to the latest numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Mike Gifford is the President and CEO of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. He says it’s troubling that the number of new HIV infections was up 19% last year, making it the second year in a row of increases. Gifford says a new, younger generation is being infected, “They don’t remember the early days of diagnosis, rapid disease progression, and death. They might not have even been alive when Magic Johnson announced he was living with HIV. We’re growing a generation of young people who may be ignorant to the threat of HIV and AIDS and we need to do better making sure they are educated.”
HIV is disproportionately affecting one community in particular. One out of every three African-American men in Wisconsin under the age of 30, who is having sex with another man, has contracted HIV. Gifford says people often look at HIV being out of control in parts of Africa, but the problem is worse in our own backyard, “Those rates are far higher than any rate you’re going to find in sub-Saharan Africa. It talks about the devastation the epidemic is placing on that community and the risk that HIV continues to be throughout the state of Wisconsin.”
Gifford says HIV education in schools is essential because it ultimately leads to testing and if necessary, treatment.