FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

HIV/AIDS cases increased in Minnesota in 2012

The state of Minnesota experienced an eight percent increase in HIV infections in 2012, according to a report on Tuesday from the Minnesota Department of Health.

HIV infections rose from 292 cases reported in 2011 to 315 cases in 2012. Since the MDH started tracking AIDS in 1982 and HIV in 1985, there have been 10,112 HIV/AIDS cases reported in the state. Health officials estimate that there are currently 7,516 people living with HIV in Minnesota.

Communities of color and American Indians dealt with the greatest health disparities when looking at infection rates by ethnicity and rates compared to whites. Eighty-three percent of new HIV cases were concentrated in the Twin Cities metropolitan areas.

"Higher HIV infection rates are seen among our communities experiencing social disadvantages with regard to employment, quality education, income and housing," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger said. "Lower employment and income limits access to health insurance and quality health care, including HIV prevention education, testing, treatment, and on-going care services."

Young males between the ages of 13 and 24 years of age accounted for 22 percent of all new male cases last year. More than one in three of the reported HIV cases were among 20 to 29 year olds.

Female HIV/AIDS cases dropped 19 percent last year and women of color accounted for 80 percent of all new cases among females.

Health officials said that practicing safer sex, limiting the number of sexual partners and avoiding the sharing of needles can prevent the spread of HIV.

"Getting tested for HIV and getting into treatment if infected is an effective prevention strategy," Ehlinger said. "Those in treatment can substantially reduce their ability to transmit HIV to their sexual partners."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends HIV screening for all people at risk who have had a new sexual partner, shared needles or unprotected sex.