The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District announced an increase in HIV and Syphilis cases Thursday.
Twelve new cases of HIV have been diagnosed in McLennan County since January 1. Eleven of the twelve cases were identified in men who have been sexually active with other men, the health department said.
Since March 14, five primary and secondary cases of Syphilis were diagnosed, and those cases also involved men having sex with men.
"Primary and secondary Syphilis are the stages in which individuals are most infectious," the health department said in a press release.
The health district strongly urged men in sexually active same-sex relationships 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," the health district said. "Anyone engaging in these activities is encouraged to ask their physician about the possible use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to prevent acquiring HIV."
Both diseases are contagious and some people carrying them may show no symptoms. Syphilis can be cured, but HIV cannot. However, medical treatment can allow people with HIV to live comfortable lives.
Free testing is available at the health district, which is located at 225 W. Waco Dr., Suite 209 in Waco. It is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No appointments are necessary and off-site testing is available when requested.