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No decline in new Wisconsin HIV cases

By Pauleen Le, ple@wkbt.com
Published On: Apr 25 2013 02:09:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 25 2013 11:47:14 AM CDT
La Crosse, Wis. -

With advancements in technology and education, the number of new HIV cases in Wisconsin have not gone down the past few years.

The state reported about 400 new cases of HIV in the past year.

Bill Keeton of the AIDS Resource Center Resource Center of Wisconsin said HIV/AIDS is a never ending never-ending battle.

"We have more and more people at risk for HIV than ever before," said Keeton.

A new report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said of the roughly 400 new HIV cases Wisconsin saw in 2012, six were in La Crosse County. That number is about double the average of what the county normally sees.

While men having sex with men and people sharing needles are still the most at-risk, a new group of people is becoming more affected.

"We're seeing more and more infections among young people than ever before and that's really concerning," said Keeton.

Dr. Dave McNamara from Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse say women are also becoming more at-risk.

He said part of the increase has to do with the lack of education.

"I think the biggest issues are that it's fallen off the radar screen of many people," said McNamara.

The report comes at a time when doctors across the nation have made headlines for potential cures.

Doctors at the University of Mississippi used aggressive treatment on a newborn whose mother was HIV positive. The baby later showed no sign of the virus.

On Tuesday, doctors at the University of Minnesota performed a rare bone marrow transplant hoping to cure a 12-year-old boy born with HIV who later developed leukemia.

McNamara said these cases don't mean we're any closer to finding a cure.

"Those situations are extremely uncommon," said McNamara. "The virus itself, it mutates quite rapidly and commonly in its replication so it's unfortunately very difficult to make a vaccine for."

So while the search for a cure continues, both said more education is needed to reduce the number of new cases.

Minnesota reported an eight percent increase in HIV cases last year. That's nearly 40 new cases.

For more information about resources and treatments, head to the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin website.

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