Health

This Is A Crisis Bigger Than Milwaukee: 125 People With HIV Or Syphilis

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This is Treponema Pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis. (Photo By BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)

What happens in Milwaukee won’t necessarily stay in Milwaukee. There’s been a recent surge in HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and syphilis cases,&nbsp;125 and counting, in the largest city in Wisconsin. But Milwaukee isn’t the only part of the U.S. where sexually transmitted infections (STI) are on the rise and funding for STI prevention programs is short.&nbsp; &nbsp;

You can use the term disease cluster when you see many more cases of a disease in a geographic area than expected over a relatively brief period of time. This is what is happening in Milwaukee, where so far at least 125&nbsp;HIV and/or syphilis cases cases have been reported, includes 3 babies being born with syphilis over the past year. I say “so far” and “at least” because such cases are usually under-reported. Many people who are infected may not have gotten tested yet or may be reluctant to reveal their diagnosis because of stigma. Therefore, the problem is probably larger (potentially much larger) and spreading, because that’s what STIs tend to do: spread.

It probably doesn’t help that&nbsp;Milwaukee is considered a “mecca for sex trafficking,”&nbsp;according to Ashley Luthern writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. On Thursday, the&nbsp;Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Rethink Resources, the Medical College of Wisconsin Institute for Health &amp; Equity, Milwaukee Sexual Assault Review, and the Milwaukee Police Department released a report on sex trafficking in Milwaukee.&nbsp;The numbers were not good. (Of course, any number greater than zero is not good when it comes to sex trafficking.) Between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2016, “340 individuals ages 25 and under were confirmed or believed to be victims of sex trafficking in Milwaukee.” All were either U.S. citizens or those with legal status. Nearly all (97%) were female. Over half were juveniles.

Here is an ABC WISN 12 news segment on Milwaukee’s ranking as the 3rd worst city in the United States for sex trafficking:

However, sex trafficking is unlikely to be the only thing driving this increase in STIs. The number of STIs has been increasing throughout many parts of the U.S., not just Milwaukee. Last September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that STIs are at a record high.

What’s the best way to combat to combat rises in STIs? How about cutting the funding to STI prevention programs? That would be like telling firefighters to fight an active fire without all that hose and water stuff. Doing so would leave the firefighters (and everyone else) hosed in other ways.

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This is Treponema Pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis. (Photo By BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)

What happens in Milwaukee won’t necessarily stay in Milwaukee. There’s been a recent surge in HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and syphilis cases, 125 and counting, in the largest city in Wisconsin. But Milwaukee isn’t the only part of the U.S. where sexually transmitted infections (STI) are on the rise and funding for STI prevention programs is short.   

You can use the term disease cluster when you see many more cases of a disease in a geographic area than expected over a relatively brief period of time. This is what is happening in Milwaukee, where so far at least 125 HIV and/or syphilis cases cases have been reported, includes 3 babies being born with syphilis over the past year. I say “so far” and “at least” because such cases are usually under-reported. Many people who are infected may not have gotten tested yet or may be reluctant to reveal their diagnosis because of stigma. Therefore, the problem is probably larger (potentially much larger) and spreading, because that’s what STIs tend to do: spread.

It probably doesn’t help that Milwaukee is considered a “mecca for sex trafficking,” according to Ashley Luthern writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. On Thursday, the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Rethink Resources, the Medical College of Wisconsin Institute for Health & Equity, Milwaukee Sexual Assault Review, and the Milwaukee Police Department released a report on sex trafficking in Milwaukee. The numbers were not good. (Of course, any number greater than zero is not good when it comes to sex trafficking.) Between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2016, “340 individuals ages 25 and under were confirmed or believed to be victims of sex trafficking in Milwaukee.” All were either U.S. citizens or those with legal status. Nearly all (97%) were female. Over half were juveniles.

Here is an ABC WISN 12 news segment on Milwaukee’s ranking as the 3rd worst city in the United States for sex trafficking:

However, sex trafficking is unlikely to be the only thing driving this increase in STIs. The number of STIs has been increasing throughout many parts of the U.S., not just Milwaukee. Last September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that STIs are at a record high.

What’s the best way to combat to combat rises in STIs? How about cutting the funding to STI prevention programs? That would be like telling firefighters to fight an active fire without all that hose and water stuff. Doing so would leave the firefighters (and everyone else) hosed in other ways.

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