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Milwaukee Faces ‘Cluster Outbreak’: 125 People Test Positive For Syphilis & HIV

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*Over 100 people — including some high school students — have contracted HIV, syphilis or both in one of the largest STI clusters ever discovered in MilwaukeeThe Journal Sentinel reports.

This dramatic spread of STD’s was identified late last year. It reportedly involves at least 125 people, and three local babies were also born with syphilis. Angela Hagy, the city’s director of disease control and environmental health, said the cluster includes 19 people who tested positive for syphilis, 24 people who had syphilis and HIV, and 33 people who tested positive for HIV.

Another 25 people tested negative for both, and 26 couldn’t be contacted or were unwilling to be tested, Hagy said.

Michael Gifford, president and CEO of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, said behavior that can lead to sexually transmitted infections is one of the most urgent issues parents should talk to their children about.

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Michael Gifford, CEO of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Gifford was among a dozen health leaders who discussed the HIV and syphilis cluster in Milwaukee at a news conference at City Hall on Tuesday to show they are committed to taking action.

“A cluster is an aggregation of disease closely grouped in time and place. This cluster was identified as such because the people in it could all be connected and were in contact with each other during a 12-month, identifiable period, health officials say.”

“We must act as if the lives of our children depend on it,” Gifford said. “After all, they do.”

Some 40% to 50% of high school age youths are sexually active, he said. 

“Every parent that is aware of this needs to think about how urgent is it for my child,” Gifford said. “This can happen to any child in any school setting or outside the setting. It’s very urgent and parents need to act today.”

“The spike in the Milwaukee HIV STI cases is especially concerning to the City of Milwaukee Health Department because of a handful of youth who were newly diagnosed with HIV or syphilis,” Health Commissioner Patricia McManus said. 

According to reports, ‘the AIDS Resource Center announced a $250,000 HIV/STI prevention leadership fund that is designed to target different organizations to come up with new strategies’ to reach vulnerable populations.

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