June 24, 2015
MDH: some Minnesotans may be taking HIV/AIDS risk too lightly
National HIV Testing Day is June 27; nearly one in three new infections in state are “late testers”
Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger has a simple message for those who may have become a bit less vigilant about HIV/AIDS testing and prevention: the disease is still a big problem in Minnesota.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV, and one of every seven is unaware of their infection. On average, another person is infected with HIV in Minnesota almost every day. Nearly a third of all new HIV infections reported in Minnesota are considered “late testers,” meaning they are testing at later stages of their infection and missing the benefits of early treatment, including better health outcomes and longer lives. Receiving treatment also helps prevent the spread of HIV.
“Everyone who is sexually active should get tested for HIV,” Commissioner Ehlinger said. “The earlier a person tests and gets into treatment if infected, the better the outcome. Unfortunately, we are seeing too many people testing at later stages of their HIV infection.”
A total of 10,718 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported since MDH began tracking AIDS in 1982 and HIV in 1985. On average, 300 new HIV cases are reported to the department each year. An estimated 7,988 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working through partners to offer free HIV testing between June 25-28 in observance of National HIV Testing Day, June 27. (Locations and testing days are listed at the end of this release).
“HIV infection remains highly preventable,” Commissioner Ehlinger said. “There are steps people can take to stay safe and to prevent the spread of the disease.”
Preventive measures include:
- consistently practicing safer sex, including using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners.
- avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce, or inject drugs.
- getting into and staying in care if infected.
For those non-infected people unable to adhere to prevention techniques, daily prescription medications are available to help reduce the chance of getting HIV.
CDC guidelines recommend that health providers screen everyone between ages 13 and 64. 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. Sexual and needle-sharing partners of HIV infected patients also need to get tested and treated.
Those at risk of HIV infection can go to their own health provider to be tested. They can also contact the state’s AIDS hotline to find out where to be tested for HIV. Information about HIV and where to get tested 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. More information is available on the MDH website at National HIV Testing Day and at CDC: Get Tested.
Community HIV Testing Events – Free and Open to the Public
Thursday and Friday, June 25-26: Free HIV testing walk-ins provided by MN AIDS Project at 1400 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Thursday, and 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Friday).
Thursday, June 25: Resource fair and free HIV testing for clients of Safezone at their drop-in center, 308 East Prince Street, St. Paul, MN 55106 (2-4 p.m.).
Thursday-Saturday, June 25-27: Free HIV testing for walk-ins provided by African Health Action at Walgreens, 734 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 (3-7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday).
Friday, June 26: The Aliveness Project Free HIV Testing Event: 3808 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409 (10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.).
Friday, June 26: Free HIV testing for walk-ins provided by NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, 1313 Penn Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411 (12-4 p.m.).
Friday, June 26: Free HIV Testing for walk-ins provided by Seen On Da Streets: Fremont Clinic, 3300 Fremont Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55412 (1-5 p.m.).
Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28: Free HIV testing provided by Hennepin County Public Health Clinic’s Red Door Services Booth at Twin Cities Pride Festival, Loring Park, Minneapolis, MN (Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.).