April 27, 2016
New report shows Minnesota HIV/AIDS cases higher in some populations in 2015
While the total number of HIV diagnoses in the state for 2015 remained about the same as in 2014, a new report from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shows rates in certain population groups increased significantly.
The 2015 HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report can be found on the MDH website at HIV/AIDS Surveillance. It shows there were 294 newly reported HIV/AIDS cases in 2015, compared with 306 in 2014. A total of 11,007 cases have been reported to MDH since the epidemic began in the state in 1982. An estimated 8,215 people in Minnesota are living with HIV/AIDS.
Health officials expressed concern over higher rates of HIV in certain population groups and communities:
- HIV cases among 20- to 29-year-olds increased by 24 percent, with 108 new cases reported in 2015 compared to 87 cases in 2014. Cases were concentrated in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Higher rates occurred among communities of color and men who have sex with men.
- The number of cases among injection drug users (IDUs) increased by 86 percent, with 26 new cases in 2015 compared to 14 cases in 2014. IDU cases occurred more often with white non-Hispanic males, those between the ages of 20 and 39, Twin Cities metropolitan residents and men who have sex with men.
- 58 percent of newly reported HIV cases were people of color. Among females, more than half of all new cases were African-born. Among males, more than one-fourth of all new cases were African-American, Non-Hispanic men.
“We are seeing higher HIV infection rates in communities with limited access to HIV testing and prevention programs due to longstanding social, medical or income disadvantages,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “We can reduce these rates by improving access to services through expanded partnerships for HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care within these communities.”
Health officials noted that HIV infection remains highly preventable. Measures proven to prevent the spread of HIV include consistently practicing safer sex, including always using condoms the correct way, limiting the number of sexual partners and avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs.
For those at substantial risk of getting HIV, a daily prevention pill is now available by prescription from a health care provider. This is referred to as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. Among those who would benefit from PrEP are injection drug users and those who have multiple sexual partners. Individuals can talk about getting PrEP with their health care provider; those who don’t have a health care provider can contact the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) AIDSLine for assistance.
For those diagnosed with HIV infection, Commissioner Ehlinger emphasized that getting into treatment can drastically reduce the spread of HIV.
“Reducing the number of new HIV infections is a key public health goal, and sexually active individuals and people who inject drugs can help by getting tested and knowing their status,” Commissioner Ehlinger said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends health providers screen all people ages 13 to 64 for HIV. 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 partners and needle-sharing partners of HIV infected patients also need to get tested and treated. Getting tested for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is important since infection with other STDs can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission by two to five times.
To help curb the spread of HIV in Minnesota, MDH funds 20 community-based programs for HIV prevention and/or testing work. These programs are listed on the MDH website at HIV Prevention Grantees. MDH's STD/HIV Partner Services Program provides follow-up services to people with HIV and their sexual partners who may need examination and treatment.
MDH also has recently launched a request for proposals process to receive applications from qualified agencies to expand PrEP services in the state. Awarded agencies would begin their PrEP programs later in the summer of 2016.
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.