Number of Reported Cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis in Minnesota Rose From 2001 to 2002
The number of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases in Minnesota increased 19% from 2001 to 2002, according to statistics released on Monday by the state Department of Health, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The number of reported chlamydia cases increased 21% from 8,323 in 2001 to 10,107 in 2002. In addition, reported gonorrhea cases increased 13%, from 2,701 in 2001 to 3,049 last year. According to the data, the highest chlamydia and gonorrhea rates were among teens and young adults ages 15 to 24. Reported cases of syphilis in all stages increased 10% over the same period, from 134 cases to 148 cases, with reported early-stage syphilis cases increasing 67%, from 49 cases in 2001 to 82 cases in 2002. In addition, 56 of the 82 reported cases of early-stage syphilis occurred among men who have sex with men, compared with only five such cases among MSM in 2001. According to the Pioneer Press, the state's data on the growing number of STD cases reflects a national trend among MSM (Majeski, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 5/6). In 2001, the number of new syphilis cases in the United States rose for the first time in 11 years, with large increases occurring among MSM. The increase is a setback for the CDC's goal of eliminating syphilis in 90% of U.S. counties by 2005, but it also signals that many MSM are no longer practicing safe sex, which could lead to an increase in HIV and other STDs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/22). According to the Pioneer Press, the increase in risky behavior could stem from a perception that HIV/AIDS is a treatable disease and is no longer a "death sentence." In addition to MSM, minority populations are disproportionately represented among newly diagnosed cases of STDs, with African Americans, American Indians and Latinos having STD rates two to 40 times higher than whites, depending on the group and the disease, according to the Pioneer Press. Nicoline Tablan, the health department's STD surveillance coordinator, said that the number of reported STD cases still "underrepresents the true incidence" of STDs, adding, "It's called the hidden epidemic for a reason." Tablan emphasized the importance of STD testing for at-risk individuals and treatment with antibiotics for those already infected (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 5/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.