HIV/AIDS among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Minnesota - Minnesota Dept. of Health

HIV/AIDS among Men Who Have Sex with Men in Minnesota

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Quick Facts
HIV/AIDS among Young MSM
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Quick Facts

  • Men who have sex with men (MSM) and men who have sex with men and use injection drugs (MSM/IDU) remain at increased risk for HIV infection in MN.
  • MSM and MSM/IDU account for over half of people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota.
  • Over half of new HIV infections in Minnesota occurred in MSM and MSM/IDU in 2010.
  • The majority of new infections in 2010 occurred among white MSM and black MSM.
  • The number of young MSM diagnosed with HIV has dramatically increased over the past 10 years.
  • The number of new syphilis cases among MSM living with HIV/AIDS is on the rise as well. Over half of MSM early syphilis cases reported in 2010 had an HIV infection.


As of December 31, 2010, MSM accounted for 51% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota and 66% of males living with HIV/AIDS. MSM also made up 54% of newly reported HIV cases in Minnesota for that year. Since 2000, the number of newly reported HIV infections among MSM increased by 47% (from 121 to 178) with a peak of 214 cases in 2009. MSM/IDU represent a smaller number of cases, accounting for 5% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota and 3% of newly reported HIV infections in 2010. The number of new HIV infections among MSM/IDU has remained somewhat stable for the past decade.

MSM and MSM/IDU cases are represented by several different races and age groups. However, 72% of MSM and MSM/IDU living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota are white. African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos make up the second and third largest groups of MSM cases (16% and 8%, respectively). Asian, African-born, American Indian and multiracial cases make up the remaining 4% of MSM and MSM/IDU cases.    

Figure 1.  New HIV Infections Among Adult Males by Mode of Exposure, 2010 (n=262)

In 2010, nearly half (48%) of MSM living with HIV/AIDS resided in Minneapolis, followed by 12% in St. Paul. Twenty-seven percent lived in the surrounding 7 county-metro area, 12% in the remaining parts of the state, and 1% were unknown.

HIV/AIDS among Young MSM

The majority of MSM and MSM/IDU living with HIV in 2010 were over the age of 40 (72%). Youth (persons between the ages of 13 and 24) accounted for 4% of living male cases. Although the percentage of young males living with HIV/AIDS is small, the number of new infections among this group quadrupled from 18 in 2001 to 78 in 2009. In 2010, the number of new infections among young male cases decreased to 67. However, young male cases (88% MSM or MSM/IDU) still accounted for 1 out of 4 newly reported male cases in 2010, and are still a population of concern.

figure showing new hiv infections among MSM and MSM IDU by age

The reason behind the increase in HIV infections among young MSM in Minnesota is somewhat unclear. However, 61% of young male cases were interviewed in 2009, and behaviors most commonly reported included anonymous sex, using technology (e.g., chat rooms), having multiple partners, and using condoms infrequently.

table showing new hiv infections in youth ages 13 to 24

Syphilis (1)

A worrisome trend noticed over the past decade is the increase in early syphilis cases (2) seen among MSM. Since 2001, the number of early syphilis cases among MSM increased thirty seven-fold (from 5 cases in 2001 to 185 in 2010). The percentage of syphilis and HIV co-infected MSM (that is, persons reported as having both syphilis and HIV) also increased substantially from 48% of MSM early syphilis cases in 2006 to 57% of MSM cases in 2010. Four out of five co-infected cases occurred among MSM who had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS for at least one year before their syphilis diagnosis. However, co-infected persons may still pass either or both infections on to other partners. People who are infected with syphilis are more likely to acquire or transmit HIV infection upon exposure to the virus. The rise in incident syphilis over the past decade indicates the need for additional behavioral interventions and educational campaigns for MSM in Minnesota.          

For more information on syphilis, go to MDH's Syphilis web page
Early syphilis includes primary, secondary and early latent stages of syphilis infection.


table showing rate of hiv and syphlis co-infections

For more information on HIV/AIDS and STDs in Minnesota:

HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report
STD Surveillance Report

Minnesota Department of Health
STD, HIV and TB Section
P.O. Box 64975
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975