Report shows HIV/AIDS cases increased slightly in 2012
A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shows nearly an 8 percent increase in HIV infections with 315 cases reported in 2012 compared to 292 HIV cases reported in 2011.
A cumulative total of 10,112 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported since MDH began tracking AIDS in 1982 and HIV in 1985; there are an estimated 7,516 persons living with HIV in the state.
"The total numbers of annual and cumulative HIV cases really don't provide the complete picture of the epidemic in Minnesota," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. A further breakdown of the data shows where the epidemic is most burdensome:
New HIV cases remain concentrated within the Twin Cities metropolitan area (83 percent) but increases were seen in all geographical regions, except the suburbs, in 2012 compared to 2011.
More than one in three reported HIV cases were among 20 to 29 year olds.
The number of cases among injection drug users rose from 11 cases in 2011 to 23 cases in 2012 with the biggest increase seen in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Communities of color and American Indians experienced the greatest health disparities when looking at infection rates by race and ethnicity compared to whites.
Cases among males increased by 17 percent. Male-to-male sex was the main risk factor for males of all ages with known risk factors, making up 69 percent of male cases. Young males 13 to 24 years of age accounted for 22 percent of all new male cases in 2012.
Cases occurring among females dropped 19 percent. Women of color accounted for 80 percent of all new females cases.
Among people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota, communities of color and American Indians and men who have sex with men continue to be overrepresented.
"Higher HIV infection rates are seen among our communities experiencing social disadvantages with regard to employment, quality education, income and housing," said Ehlinger. "Lower employment and income limits access to health insurance and quality health care, including HIV prevention education, testing, treatment, and on-going care services."
Health officials noted that HIV infection still remains highly preventable even though there is no cure or vaccine. Consistently practicing safer sex, including using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners, as well as avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs have been proven to prevent the spread of HIV.
"Getting tested for HIV and getting into treatment if infected is an effective prevention strategy," said Ehlinger. "Those in treatment can substantially reduce their ability to transmit HIV to their sexual partners."
HIV testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that health providers screen all persons 13 to 64 years of age. 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.
Health officials expressed concern that recent increases in the rates of other STDs could impact HIV rates. Chlamydia and gonorrhea increased in 2012, according to MDH data. "Some of these STDs can increase HIV transmission or the likelihood of getting infected by 2 to 5 times," said Ehlinger.
To help curb the epidemic in Minnesota, the STD and HIV Section at MDH currently funds 21 community-based programs and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health funds 6 additional programs for HIV prevention and/or testing work.
The HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report - 2012 can be found on the MDH website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/hivstatistics.html.
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), 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.