Sexually transmitted disease rates rise in Minnesota
Every year, the Minnesota Department of Health releases new statistics on sexually transmitted diseases in the state. Across the board, young people and people of color were disproportionately affected by STDs in 2018. Untreated sexually treated diseases and infections can cause serious health problems. Regular screening is the only way to catch infections early and begin treatment.
Here are seven highlights from this year’s study.
1. There were 32,024 new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported to the MDH in 2018. That’s an increase of about 3 percent, from 30,981 cases in 2017.
2. Chlamydia, the No. 1 reported sexually transmitted infection in Minnesota, saw 23,564 cases in 2018. It was about a 2 percent increase. Of the sexually transmitted infections studied, it was the most spread out across the state. One out of every three cases occurred in Greater Minnesota, with four or more cases reported in every county. The majority of cases were reported in young adults, ages 15 to 24.
3. Gonorrhea, the second most common infection reported, jumped up 16 percent from 2017, with 7,542 cases reported. Three-quarters of those cases occurred in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area.
4. Syphilis cases decreased 2 percent, with 918 cases in 2018. Those cases were centered in the Twin Cities metro, and men had an infection rate that was seven times higher than that of women, according to Jared Shenk, an HIV Care and Prevention Epidemiologist with the MDH. However, there is cause for concern when it comes to women.
5. There were 10 cases of congenital (transmitted at birth) syphilis reported in 2018. In 2017, there were only two cases. That’s a major increase, MDH State Epidemiologist and Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield said in a press release. Congenital syphilis can be prevented with multiple screenings and treatment during pregnancy. Congenital syphilis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, birth defects and infant death. Lynfield said women should be tested two to three times during pregnancy to ensure that the disease is caught and treated before delivery.
6. There were 286 new cases of HIV reported in 2018. That number did not change significantly from the 280 cases reported in 2017. There is a five-year average of 296 cases from 2014-2018. Men accounted for 76 percent of new cases. Men who have sex with men remain at highest risk for infection. Fifty-nine percent of cases were in communities of color.
7. Hepatitis C infection rates remain high, with 60 new reported cases. Of those, 57 percent (34 people) reported injection drug use. Usually, Hepatitis C is most prevalent in the Baby Boomer generation, Shenk said. However, in 2018, the 26-30 age group had the highest infection rate. This indicates that there is ongoing transmission of the disease.