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Report show sexually transmitted infections are increasing in Minnesota

Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) expressed deep concern over the findings of a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicating high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI), particularly among women, and reinforced the need to take action to reduce these alarming numbers.

According to the CDC's latest report , U.S. rates of chlamydia and syphilis continue to rise, with an increase in chlamydia of 2.8 percent over the past year. Young women are most adversely affected, as women are nearly 3 times as likely as men to be diagnosed with chlamydia.

Unfortunately, many of the trends evidenced in the report are being seen right here in Minnesota. Sexually transmitted infections have climbed to historic levels, with chlamydia rates in the state more than doubling in the past thirteen years. In some communities of color, the situation is dire, as health care inequities have led to rates so high that the epidemic has become self-sustaining.

"This is an unconscionable public health failure. It's time for solutions," said PPMNS President and CEO Sarah Stoesz.

The persistent increase in STIs, particularly chlamydia, in our state must be tackled. As part of the Minnesota Chlamydia Partnership (MCP) PPMNS is working with public health leaders including the Minnesota Department of Health, the Dakota County Department of Public Health and Human Services, the City of Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, the Powell Women's Health Center at the U of M and Teen Age Medical Services in Minneapolis to call attention to the epidemic of chlamydia and develop a statewide strategy to reduce rates and prevent new cases.

PPMNS is proud to work in coalition toward a solution to this serious public health issue," said PPMNS President and CEO Sarah Stoesz. "The health and well-being of Minnesotans is our priority and chlamydia disproportionately affects those we serve," Stoesz said.

"As a major provider of education, testing and treatment of STI's throughout Minnesota we know firsthand the importance of developing a strategy to address this health threat," said PPMNS President and CEO Sarah Stoesz. "This study underscores what Planned Parenthood already knows: Women, men and teens need to know how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections. They need medically accurate and age appropriate information and access to preventive health care to build healthier, brighter futures," Stoesz said.

Early this year, PPMNS released a report on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urged the State of Minnesota to enact a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to reducing the state's rising STI rates.

Chlamydia in Minnesota

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported infectious disease in Minnesota, with 14,186 cases identified in 2009. Rates of chlamydia have more than doubled over the last 14 years, and have especially impacted young people, women, communities of color, and American Indians. Among Minnesota women, chlamydia incidence has more than doubled since 1996; among Minnesota's young adult population, chlamydia incidence has more than tripled.

More than 94% of Planned Parenthood's 64,000 patients are women, the majority of whom are young adults, and 19% of whom are from communities of color. This population - female patients aged 26 and younger - are at the greatest risk of acquiring an STI. Many STIs s can cause permanent damage if not treated early. For example, women infected with chlamydia are at risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease. Long term complications may include infertility, chronic pain and ectopic pregnancy and a significantly increased risk of acquiring HIV.

PPMNS provides culturally relevant education and outreach services among Latino, Asian and African immigrant communities specifically designed to respond to cultural and linguistic barriers that often keep members of our communities from seeking the health care they need. Our Parent-Child Programs support family communication and connectedness; our Teen Councils and Youth Peer Education Programs empower young people with the skills they need to make healthy choices, and our Adult Lay Health Advisor Programs teach adults how to be health care experts in their local communities.

"Planned Parenthood will continue its work in our clinics and in communities across the state to address this public health and education imperative. Our young people deserve nothing less," Stoesz said.