STD Awareness Month Facts - Minnesota Dept. of Health

April is National STD Awareness Month in Minnesota

Photo of diverse young men and women. April is STD Awareness Month.

About STD Awareness Month, STD Awareness Month Facts

Fact sheet provided by the STD, HIV and TB Section, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division, Minnesota Department of Health

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STD Awareness Month Facts (PDF: 81KB/3 pages)

On This Page:
Minnesota's Situation
The Bad News
The Good News
More Information, Free Resources, Links


The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) encourages all Minnesotans to learn about sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STDs/STIs), one of the state’s most persistent health problems, during the observance of National STD Awareness Month. Public awareness and knowledge are critically low around the country and STDs/STIs remain at epidemic levels. National STD Awareness Month is a national health observance sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help break the silence and alert everyone to the growing crisis of STDs/STIs in America. The American Social Health Association (ASHA) provides estimates on the number of STDs/STIs occurring in the U.S.:

  • Over one in two Americans will contract an STD/STI at some point in their lifetimes
  • Nearly 20 million estimated new STDs/STIs occur each year in the U.S. per CDC
  • One in two sexually active persons will contract an STD/STI by age 25
  • One in four teens contract an STD/STI each year
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) or genital warts is the most common
  • STD/STI in the U.S. and is the leading cause of cervical cancer
  • An estimated one in five Americans (50 million) have genital herpes; and, about 776,000 new infections occur each year
  • Each year, there are almost 3 million new cases of chlamydia
  • Nearly $16 billion is the total estimated direct cost of STDs/STIs annually

Minnesota's Situation

The MDH mainly monitors case reports of STDs/STIs that are required, by law, to be reported by physicians and laboratories in Minnesota: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, chancroid, hepatitis, and HIV. Other common STDs/STIs, such as genital herpes and genital warts, are not required to be reported in Minnesota. However, there are periodic studies that the MDH performs that help monitor the non-reportable STDs/STIs.

The MDH received 23,133 new case reports of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2013, indicating about an 8% increase compared to 2012.

  • 18,724 new chlamydia cases were reported in the state in 2013, nearly a 4% increase from 2012. From an all-time low of 115 cases per 100,000 in 1996, the incidence of chlamydia has tripled to 353 per 100,000 in 2013.  Over these years, increases were seen across all gender, age and geographical groups. The rates have quadrupled among men (54 to 220 per 100,000) and more than doubled among females (175 to 484 per 100,000). Among 30-39 year-olds, the incidence rate is over five times higher in 2013 compared to 1996. Rates doubled among American Indians, Blacks, and Hispanics and almost tripled among Whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
  • 3,872 new gonorrhea cases were reported in the state in 2013, a 26% increase from 2012 (3,082 cases). Teens and young adults account for 58% of all gonorrhea cases. Infection rates remain elevated among communities of color, particularly among Blacks where rates were 26.5 times higher than Whites. American Indian and Hispanics had rates 7.0 and 2.3 times higher than Whites. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul accounted for 66% of all reported cases.
  • The resurgence of early syphilis among men that began in 2001 continued to remain elevated in 2013. In 2013, there were 332 cases of early syphilis (primary, secondary and early latent stages) reported compared to 214 early syphilis cases in 2012, a 55% increase.  The number of cases among women increased from 18 cases in 2012 to 30 cases in 2013.  Early syphilis cases among men increased from 196 to 298 (52%). Of all early syphilis cases reported in 2013, 90% were among males and 88% of these were among men who have sex with men (MSM).  Of the MSM early syphilis cases 46% were co-infected with HIV. The City of Minneapolis accounts for the majority of primary and secondary cases (52%).
  • Cumulatively, through December 31, 2013, there were 21,585 persons living with hepatitis B. There were 19 acute symptomatic hepatitis B cases reported in 2013.
  • Cumulatively, through December 31, 2013, there were 40,943 persons living with hepatitis C. There were 47 acute symptomatic hepatitis C cases reported in 2013.
  • In 2013, there were 301 HIV cases reported - one new case every 29 hours. Since MDH began tracking AIDS in 1982 and HIV in 1985, a total of 10,409 cases have been reported and 3,558 people have died. There are an estimated 7,723 people aware of their HIV status currently living in Minnesota.

The Bad News About STDs

Undiagnosed and untreated STDs/STIs can lead to lifelong health problems, even death.  STDs/STIs are linked to or can cause:

  • Damage to joints, heart, reproductive organs, and the brain
  • Genital (penile in males or cervical in women) or anal cancers in both men and women
  • Increased risk of tubal pregnancies which can be fatal
  • Infertility (unable to reproduce) in both men and women
  • Liver problems and cancer
  • Blindness, deafness, birth defects, early delivery or stillborns in infants during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Increased risk of transmitting or getting HIV by 3 times compared to someone without an STD/STI

Many STDs/STIs have no symptoms or they are too minor to see. Many people are relying on symptoms to appear before they get concerned. The STDs/STIs can persist unless detected or treated, even though the symptoms may go away. The only way to know if an STD/STI is present is to get tested. There is no lifelong immunity once a person has had an STD/STI or gets treated. A person can get infected again and again through unprotected sex.

The Good News About STDs/STIs

STDs/STIs are largely preventable and most are curable or can be controlled to prevent complications. Here are some key points:

  • The most reliable way to avoid an STD/STI is to abstain from sex or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
  • Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, correct and consistent condom use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other STDs/STIs.
  • There are vaccines available to prevent hepatitis A or hepatitis B infections. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.
  • There are two new vaccines for young women and girls (Gardasil® and Cervarix®) that protect against infection by certain strains of the genital wart virus associated with cervical cancer.
  • STD/STI testing is available throughout Minnesota at medical clinics, physician offices, family planning clinics, health maintenance organizations and selected community-based organizations. More information can be found at the MDH STD Testing website.
  • Some STD/STI screening tests (gonorrhea and chlamydia) are simple and only require a urine specimen.
  • Free brochures and fact sheets are available online from the MDH web site on the prevention, testing and treatment of STDs/STIs.
  • The Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership is an independent coalition of health providers and citizens to provide strategies and resources to reduce chlamydia rates in Minnesota.
  • There is a statewide, toll-free STD hotline in Minnesota that can provide information about STDs/STIs and provide locations of sites that provide STD testing services: 1-800-78-FACTS voice/TTY (statewide) or 651-645-9360 (metro area); Text ASKMN to 66746; and, the STD hotline website

Minnesota’s Response to Reducing STD/STI Occurrence

The MDH has taken the following actions in response to Minnesota’s STD/STI situation:

  • Internet sites have been set-up for obtaining downloadable STD/STI related materials for National STD Awareness Month in April 2015; and, a bilingual English/Spanish site.
  • MDH STD/HIV/TB Section currently funds approximately 20 community-based programs to deliver HIV related outreach, testing, individual counseling, support groups, pharmacy syringe access and disposal, and educational services to targeted at-risk populations.
  • The MDH Partner Services Program provides follow-up to sexual partners of HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis infected persons so they can receive treatment to help prevent further spread and re-infection of the initial patient.
  • Since 2002, prevention and awareness efforts were completed in each year to reach men who have sex with men and the health care community about the rise in syphilis cases. More information can be found at the MDH syphilis website.
  • In May 2008, Minnesota pharmacy statutes were amended removing the only known legal barrier to implementing expedited partner therapy (EPT) in Minnesota. When partners are unable or unwilling to get to a clinic, the new law allows physicians to dispense prescriptions or medications for partners through their patients infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea. Information and resources about EPT were created for clinicians at the MDH EPT site

For More Information or Free Resources

STD, HIV and TB Section
Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division
Minnesota Department of Health
Freeman Office Building
PO Box 64975
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975
(651) 201-5414

Minnesota Family Planning & STD Hotline
1-800-78-FACTS voice/TTY (statewide)
(651) 645-9360 (metro area)
Text ASKMN to 66746

American Social Health Association
PO Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
(919) 361-8400

National AIDS and STD Hotlines
1-888-232-6348 TTY

CDC National Prevention Information Network
PO Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
(800) 458-5231
(800) 243-7012 TTY

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Division of STD Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
(800) 232-4636

Updated Friday, April 10, 2015 at 09:57AM