News release: Health officials urge Minnesotans to spread science, not stigma on World AIDS Day

News Release
November 27, 2018

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Health officials urge Minnesotans to spread science, not stigma on World AIDS Day

Public health community, partners observe World AIDS Day Saturday, Dec. 1

Advancements in treatment and prevention mean that HIV is now a chronic, manageable condition, but stigma remains an important public health concern. As World AIDS Day 2018 approaches, state health officials are urging Minnesotans to help end the stigma of HIV by learning more about the recent scientific developments around HIV.

“The stigma associated with having HIV discourages people from getting tested or treated, leading to poorer health outcomes,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Access to current and accurate information about HIV can reduce stigma and lead to better health for all. That’s why we are working on this World AIDS Day to encourage people to learn more about the truth of HIV.”

One of the best ways to stop stigma is by sharing the “Undetectable = Untransmittable” message. The message is an abbreviated way of communicating the key fact that when taken as prescribed, HIV medications reduce the amount of HIV in blood to undetectable levels. This allows people living with HIV to live long and healthy lives, and it prevents the spread of HIV through sex. Several large studies showed no HIV transmissions among from a person with undetectable HIV to their HIV-negative sex partner. For more information, visit the Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U) page on the MDH website.

Another highly effective HIV prevention method is pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. PrEP is a daily pill that can significantly reduce the risk for HIV infection. Many people who take PrEP report feeling empowered by taking control of their sexual health and having an extra layer of protection against HIV. It is recommended for people at increased risk for HIV infection, such as people with sex partners of unknown HIV status or people who share injection equipment. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) provides funding for free and confidential PrEP navigation services. For more information, see Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

MDH recommends that everyone ages 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once. If you do not know the HIV status of your sex partners or you share injection equipment, you should be tested at least yearly. To find a testing place near you, see HIV Testing Sites in Minnesota.

The number of new HIV infections in Minnesota has remained relatively stable with 284 cases reported in 2017, but disparities remain. Men who have sex with men, and especially MSM of color, continue to have higher rates of HIV. In 2017, MSM had a rate of new infections (150 per 100,000) that was 30 times higher than the overall state population. African-American and African-born Minnesotans accounted for 27 percent and 21 percent of new infections in 2017, respectively, while both groups made up 5 percent of Minnesota’s total population. Over half of

all new HIV cases in 2017 were among communities of color; more than one-third of new HIV cases were in people under 30 years old; and HIV diagnoses among people who inject drugs has continued to increase in recent years.

“The stigma around HIV is particularly acute in communities of color. However, if we share the facts about HIV and talk to each other about the effectiveness of prevention, testing, and treatment, we can decrease the stigma around HIV and help to decrease the number of new infections,” Malcolm added.

A number of MDH partners are hosting activities or events for World AIDS Day. Here is a sample listing of World AIDS Day events in Minnesota:

Friday, Nov. 30, Capri Theatre, 2021 West Broadway Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55411 (5 - 8 p.m.) Sarah Simmons Showcase
Talent show performances, free food, free full screen STD testing and rapid HIV testing.

Saturday, Dec. 1, All God’s Children MCC, 3100 Park Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55407 (7:30 - 9 a.m.) HIV Today: A Call for Unity and Action
A time for remembrance, reflection and fellowship. Refreshments/reception at 7:30, program at 8.

Saturday, Dec. 1, Five 15 on the Park, 515 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55454 (3 – 6 p.m.) African World AIDS Day Testing Event
Free rapid HIV testing with $10 gift card incentive with test. Free food, open to public.

Monday, Dec. 3, La Clinica, 153 Cesar Chavez St., St. Paul, MN 55107 (8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.) World AIDS Day Celebration at La Clinica
Walk in HIV testing. $10 gift card the first 20 people.

Monday, Dec. 3, The Parkway Theatre, 4814 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55417 (6 - 8 p.m.) Let’s talk about HIV. Let’s end the epidemic.
Local HIV experts and positive leaders will talk about how diverse residents can end HIV, keep positive people healthy, and end the epidemic. Catered food from El Burrito Mercado and HIV testing from Red Door Clinic will be provided.

Tuesday, Dec. 4, East Side Clinic, 895 East Seventh St., St. Paul, MN 55106 (8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.) World AIDS Day Celebration at East Side Clinic
Walk in HIV testing. $10 gift card the first 20 people.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, SafeZone Drop-in Center, 130 E. 7th St., St. Paul, MN 55106 World AIDS Day Testing Celebration
Free rapid HIV testing and education for youth experiencing homelessness, meals at 1 and 4. Call 651-772-5592 with questions.


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications