Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2016: DCN - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 2016

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Surveillance for gonorrhea and chlamydia in Minnesota are monitored through a mostly passive surveillance system involving review of submitted case reports and laboratory reports. Syphilis is monitored through active surveillance, which involves immediate follow-up with the clinician upon receipt of a positive laboratory report. Although overall incidence rates for STDs in Minnesota are lower than those in many other areas of the United States, certain population subgroups in Minnesota have very high STD rates. Specifically, STDs disproportionately affect adolescents, young adults, and persons of color.


Chlamydia trachomatis infection is the most commonly reported infectious disease in Minnesota. In 2016, 22,675 chlamydia cases (428 per 100,000 population) were reported, representing a 7% increase from 2015 (Table 3).

Adolescents and young adults are at highest risk for acquiring a chlamydia infection (Table 4). The chlamydia rate is highest among 20 to 24-year-olds (2,391 per 100,000), followed by the 15 to 19-year-old age group (1,617 per 100,000). The incidence of chlamydia among adults 25 to 29 years of age (1,102 per 100,000) is considerably lower but has increased in recent years. The chlamydia rate among females (560 per 100,000) is more than twice the rate among males (293 per 100,000), a difference most likely due to more frequent screening among females. The incidence of chlamydia infection is highest in communities of color (Table 4).

The rate among blacks (1,825 per 100,000) is 9 times higher than the rate among whites (193 per 100,000). Although blacks comprise approximately 5% of Minnesota’s population, they account for 22% of reported chlamydia cases. Rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders (342 per 100,000), Hispanics (522 per 100,000), and American Indians (943 per 100,000) are over 2 to 4 times higher than the rate among whites.

Chlamydia infections occur throughout the state, with the highest reported rates in Minneapolis (1,196 per 100,000) and St. Paul (912 per 100,000). While there was an overall increase of 7% across the state in 2016, the greatest increase for chlamydia was seen in Greater Minnesota. This area displayed an increase of 11%, as shown in Table 4. Every county in Minnesota had at least 2 cases in 2016.


Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in Minnesota. In 2016, 5,104 cases (96 per 100,000 population) were reported. This is the highest reported rate of gonorrhea in the last decade (Table 3). Adolescents and young adults are at greatest risk for gonorrhea (Table 4), with rates of 244 per 100,000 among 15 to 19-year-olds, 416 per 100,000 among 20 to 24-year olds, and 302 per 100,000 among 25 to 29-year-olds. Gonorrhea rates for males (109 per 100,000) were higher than females (83 per 100,000). Communities of color are disproportionately affected by gonorrhea. The incidence of gonorrhea among blacks (657 per 100,000) is 17 times higher than the rate among whites (37 per 100,000). Rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders (63 per 100,000), Hispanics (103 per 100,000), and American Indians (321 per 100,000) are up to 7 times higher than among whites. Gonorrhea rates are highest in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (Table 4). The incidence in Minneapolis (448 per 100,000) is over 1.5 times higher than the rate in St. Paul (271 per 100,000), 6.5 times higher than the rate in the suburban metropolitan area (69 per 100,000), and 11.5 times higher than the rate in Greater Minnesota (39 per 100,000). In 2016, the suburban area saw the largest increase in cases at 41%. The emergence of quinolone-resistant N. gonorrhoeae (QRNG) in recent years has become a particular concern. Due to the high prevalence of QRNG in Minnesota as well as nationwide, quinolones are no longer recommended for the treatment of gonococcal infections. Additionally, CDC changed the treatment guidelines for gonococcal infections in August 2012. CDC no longer recommends cefixime at any dose as a first-line regimen for treatment of gonococcal infections. If cefixime is used as an alternative agent, then the patient should return in 1 week for a test-of-cure at the site of infection. New CDC STD Treatment Guidelines were released in 2015.


Surveillance data for primary and secondary syphilis are used to monitor morbidity trends because these represent recently acquired infections. Data for early syphilis (which includes primary, secondary, and early latent stages of disease) are used in outbreak investigations because these represent infections acquired within the past 12 months and signify opportunities for disease prevention.

Primary and Secondary Syphilis

The incidence of primary/secondary syphilis in Minnesota is lower than that of chlamydia or gonorrhea (Table 3), but has remained elevated since an outbreak began in 2002 among men who have sex with men (MSM). In 2016, there were 306 cases of primary/secondary syphilis in Minnesota (5.8 cases per 100,000 persons). This represents a 26% increase compared to the 246 cases (4.6 per 100,000) reported in 2015.

Early Syphilis

In 2016, the number of early syphilis cases increased by 29%, with 557 cases, compared to 431 cases in 2015. The incidence remains highly concentrated among MSM. Of the early syphilis cases in 2016, 468 (84%) occurred among men; 358 (64%) of these were MSM; 44% of the MSM diagnosed with early syphilis were co-infected with HIV. However, the number of women reported has continued to increase from 2012.

Congenital Syphilis

Six congenital syphilis cases were reported in 2016. This is the largest number of cases in more than 25 years.


Chancroid continues to be very rare in Minnesota. The last case was reported in 1999.

Number of cases and rates per 100,000 persons of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis

Number of cases and incidence rates (per 100,000 persons) of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary/secondary syphilis by residence, age, race/ethnicity, and gender

Updated Thursday, 24-Jan-2019 08:37:58 CST