AIDS and HIV cases on the rise in Western Wisconsin

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The state says the number of positive cases of HIV and AIDS in Wisconsin is on the rise. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says the Chippewa Valley is one of the areas with the largest increase.

The Department of Health Services says Eau Claire and Dunn Counties have seen some of the biggest increases in the state.

Local health experts say while the numbers are small, this is still a big concern. Eau Claire City County Heath Director Richard Thoune says across the state the biggest increase in new aids cases has been in people ages 13 to 29.

"We need to be doing more preventative education as a way of helping people understand that if they're in the a high risk group they really should be tested annually," says Thoune.

Eau Claire County saw a total of 6 cases in 2009. On average from 2004 to 2008 the county only saw about 2 to 3 people infected with the disease.

In Dunn County it saw only about one case a year over that four year span, but it saw five cases last year. Thoune says practicing safe sex and knowing your partner are two big keys to staying healthy.

"Know who it is who you're having a relationship with, talk about HIV and how to prevent it, and practice safe sex," says Thoune.

"The treatments for this epidemic are light years ahead of were early on but now people have the chance to live a long and healthy life with HIV,” says Bill Keeton, who’s a spokesperson for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

He says even with treatment people, especially the younger generations, don't often see the intense medical regiment and expensive medication and the other problems that come with treatment.

"There's a whole host of other (medical) concerns in the HIV population at an earlier age then the HIV negative population," says Keeton.

Thoune says the increase is on pace with the national numbers but he says he's going to be keeping a closer eye on the disease.

He says one other tip especially if you're in a high risk group is to get tested regularly. In Dunn County the health department says along with HIV, it's also seeing a rise in other sexually transmitted diseases.

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