April 30, 2014
HIV/AIDS cases drop slightly in 2013, according to new report
Elevated case rates seen among certain communities, age groups and areas
A new report shows a 4 percent drop in HIV diagnoses with 301 cases reported in 2013 compared to 314 in 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
A total of 10,409 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported since MDH began tracking AIDS in 1982 and HIV in 1985. An estimated 7,723 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
"Although we saw a slight decrease in the overall HIV case reports, there are certainly some increases occurring among our communities of color and men who have sex with men that concern us," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. A further breakdown of the data shows the following:
- New HIV cases remain concentrated within the Twin Cities metropolitan area (82 percent) and an increase was only seen in the suburbs in 2013.
- Nearly one in three reported HIV cases were among 20- to 29-year-olds.
- There were no HIV cases reported among infants in 2013.
- The number of cases among injection drug users dropped from 23 cases in 2012 to 14 in 2013.
- Communities of color experienced the greatest health disparities when looking at infection rates by race and ethnicity compared to white non-Hispanics.
- Among people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota, communities of color and men who have sex with men continue to be overrepresented.
- Cases occurring among females increased 22 percent with the largest increases seen among African-born and white females. Women of color accounted for 73 percent of all new female cases.
- Cases among males dropped by 11 percent. Male-to-male sex was the main risk factor for males of all ages with known risk factors, making up 62 percent of male cases. Young males 13 to 24 years of age accounted for 18 percent of all new male cases in 2013.
"The data tell us that communities that experience inadequate employment, education, income and housing tend to have higher HIV infection rates," said Ehlinger. "It's important that we provide adequate access to HIV prevention education, testing, and treatment and care services for these communities."
Health officials noted that HIV infection can be prevented. One of the best ways to prevent the spread of HIV is for those living with HIV to be in treatment for it. "People in treatment can significantly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners," said Ehlinger. "Getting tested for HIV is the best place to start if you are sexually active."
Other prevention strategies include practicing safer sex, including using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners, as well as avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs are proven to prevent the spread of HIV. Sexual and needle-sharing partners of HIV infected patients also need to get tested and treated.
HIV testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that health providers screen all persons 13 to 64 years of age. Annual HIV screening is recommended for those at risk who have had unprotected sex, a new sexual partner, or shared needles or equipment to inject drugs.
Health officials expressed concern that recent increases in the rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) could impact HIV rates. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis all increased in 2013, according to MDH data. "Some of these STIs can increase HIV transmission or the likelihood of getting infected by 2 to 5 times," said Ehlinger.
To help curb the epidemic in Minnesota, the STD, HIV and TB Section at MDH currently funds 21 community-based programs and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health funds 6 additional programs for HIV prevention and/or testing work.
The HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report – 2013 can be found on the MDH website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/hivstatistics.html.
Information about HIV is available from the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) AIDSLine, 612-373-2437 (Twin Cities Metro), 1-800-248-2437 (Statewide), 1-888-820-2437 (Statewide TTY), Text "AIDSLINE" to 839863, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. MAP AIDSLine offers statewide information and referral services, including prevention education, HIV risk assessments, HIV testing and referrals to HIV testing sites.