MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - The number of gay men infected with the AIDS virus is at 14 year high in Wisconsin. And heterosexual men are getting the most infections in a decade. State AIDS and HIV health director Jim Vergeront says young people don’t remember when the disease caused a huge scare in the 1980’s and ‘90’s. And they’re not learning the lessons from that period of avoiding unprotected sex. Almost 375 Wisconsinites died from the AIDS virus in its worst year of 1993.
69 state residents died last year, but the number of HIV infections jumped 11 percent to 443. Cases among young people jumped 162 percent in the last decade. And heterosexual AIDS infections are almost at their peak year of 2002. Vergeront says his office is using social networking sites to remind young people that unprotected sex can cause the AIDS virus. He says substance abuse is also a problem with many gay men. And the Internet might be a factor, helping people hook up with anonymous sex partners. The state health services department says the biggest increases in HIV cases last year were in Eau Claire, Dunn, Wood, Outagamie, Winnebago, Dodge, Walworth, and Milwaukee counties.