Syphilis cases on the rise in Milwaukee among young, black gay men

James E. Causey
Original Article:

The number of syphilis cases among young black gay men in Milwaukee has spiked at the same time that HIV cases in this group also have started another alarming upward trend. And while the numbers have increased, federal dollars have done the opposite due to a cut in funding of HIV programs.

On Tuesday, a state official at a conference of health care providers in Milwaukee said that one "cluster" of syphilis cases in the city had as many as 125 individuals who are linked together through sexual and social networks.

Diagnoses of HIV and of primary, secondary and early latent syphilis in black males who have sex with men, ages 15 to 29, in the city of Milwaukee increased by 71% and 163% respectively between 2009 and 2014, according to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Local agencies are studying the issues related to this cluster but they need help in fighting the spread of both diseases. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to be leading the charge to reduce these startling numbers.

Some providers were critical of the emphasis. They say state and federal governments are pushing for testing and medical interventions instead of behavioral changes. I’m not going to call this a mistake, but imagine how many people need to understand the importance of changing their behaviors or to simply love themselves?

This issue is bigger than just condom distribution and testing.

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