McLennan County: HIV, syphilis case are on the rise

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MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) The Waco-McLennan County Health District Thursday reported an increase in the number of HIV and syphilis cases in the county.

"It's an ongoing outbreak," Waco-McLennan County Public Health District infectious disease specialist Dr. Edward Farley Verner said Friday.

"We're just getting more new cases this year than we have in the past."

Since Jan. 1, 12 new cases of HIV have been diagnosed, 11 of them in sexually active men who are having sex with other men.

Since March 14, five primary and secondary cases of syphilis have been diagnosed, all of them involving men having sex with men.

"Most likely the HIV transmission and syphilis transmission that's happening is probably from someone who doesn't know they have it themselves," Verner said.

The health district is urging homosexually active men to be tested for HIV and syphilis.

“We are actively working with churches, businesses, social media and dating websites to encourage the use of protection and testing. Anyone engaging in these activities is encouraged to ask their physician about the possible use of pre-exposure prophylaxis medication to prevent acquiring HIV,” the health district said in a press release Thursday.

The health district provides free confidential testing from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at its office at 225 West Waco Dr. Suite 209.

Appointments aren’t necessary.