Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Tomorrow, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) will join countless other organizations around the state and across the country to observe the 35th annual World AIDS Day by honoring, celebrating, and advocating for those who have been impacted by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying the body’s cells that fight disease and infection.
“This annual event is a reminder of the global struggle to end HIV-related stigma, and an opportunity to honor those we have lost,” said DHS State Health Officer Paula Tran. “While there have been tremendous advances in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care of people with HIV, we must remain vigilant and continue to work together to ensure essential HIV services are accessible to all Wisconsinites who are in need.”
According to the recently published 2022 Wisconsin HIV Surveillance Annual Report, the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV has increased over the last two years. During 2022, 289 people were newly diagnosed with HIV and a total of 7,310 people were known to be living with HIV in Wisconsin. An estimated 1,063 additional people may be living with HIV in Wisconsin but are not currently aware of their diagnosis. In 2022, people of color accounted for 69% of the people newly diagnosed with HIV despite representing only 20% of the state’s population. Age also plays a role, in 2022 approximately one out of three new HIV diagnoses during 2022 were among young cisgender men under 30. Black and Latino gay/bisexual/same gender-loving men are disproportionately affected by HIV in Wisconsin.
“Racism, HIV stigma, homophobia, poverty, and barriers to health care continue to drive these disparities,” said DHS State Health Officer Paula Tran. “DHS is currently working with partners to address these challenges, and we have a statewide goal to reduce the number of new HIV diagnoses by at least 40% by 2026.”
DHS’s 2022-2026 Wisconsin Integrated HIV Prevention and Care Plan outlines an approach to reduce the overall number of HIV diagnoses over the next three years and improve HIV-related health outcomes for people living with HIV in Wisconsin. In 2022, DHS also launched a Harm Reduction Response Team to respond to communities that experience spikes in HIV, Hepatitis C, and overdoses.
While there is no cure for HIV, it can be managed with treatment, and those living with HIV can lead healthy and full lives. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. Rapid HIV testing is available at 28 locations throughout the state, and many providers offer same-day or rapid-start antiretroviral therapy (ART) to allow people newly diagnosed with HIV to start treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. The Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and Insurance Assistance Program are available to help people with HIV get medicine and health insurance assistance. You can also go to hiv.gov to find testing and care services near you.
For more information on testing and treatment, visit the Wisconsin HIV Program website.