I recently came an article that Fox6Now released a little less than a year ago in regards to HIV and other STDs in Milwaukee. The article stated that 127 people were tested for HIV and Syphilis. Of the 127, 76 people tested positive for HIV, Syphilis, or both. That’s nearly 60%. It went on for say that many of the people who have been contracted were in high school and/or homosexual.
The statistics are incredibly shocking and they definitely tell us that we’re doing something wrong as a community. How is it that the majority of HIV/Syphilis victims are between the ages of 15 and 29? Most of the tested group were men and 45% of them were HIV positive.
People ages 15 to 24 make up 37.4% of the HIV cases in Milwaukee, while people ages 20 to 29 make up 57.1% of the syphilis cases, according to the Milwaukee Health Department.
As I reflect on the numbers, my heart goes out to teens and young adults. So many questions are sparked in my mind. I wonder how we got here as a city. Why are these numbers so high at such young ages? Are people knowingly or unknowingly spreading these diseases? Are people afraid to speak out about sex? Does sex education start and end at home? Are schools eliminating sex education from the health curriculum?
Where does this issue stem from? Is it peer pressure? Does the fear of being accepted play a role? What’s stopping people from protecting themselves?
I, personally, feel there’s many barriers when it relates to sex, STDs, and HIV. These are difficult topics of discussion. In order to find solutions, we have to examine the problem. Yet, in order to successfully dissect the epidemic we will need transparent, honest, and open dialogue. We need those effected to speak out, whether privately or boldly to bring awareness.
One of the best ways to gather insight is through relationship building. What is stopping young people from feeling comfortable enough to ask questions and/or get help? This type of feedback will allow us to begin the brainstorming process. We need to know what’s causing people to neglect their health when it comes to sex; whether it be the lack of education or health prevention techniques.
Again, there seems to be many barriers but bringing more awareness, creating more content and dialogue, and speaking out about possible solutions will send a buzz throughout the city. We need long term solutions and we need them now.