Number of New HIV Cases in Minnesota Lowest in 20 Years, Report Says
The number of new HIV cases reported in Minnesota fell to its lowest point in 20 years in 2003, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. According to the report, 266 people in the state were diagnosed with HIV in 2003, compared with 305 people in 2002 -- a 13% decline, according to the Star Tribune. The number of new cases is the lowest since Minnesota began tracking HIV cases in 1985. However, state epidemiologist Dr. Harry Hull said that some groups "still have alarming rates of HIV infection," the Star Tribune reports. According to the report, 21% of the state's new HIV cases were among African-born men and women, who account for less than 1% of Minnesota's population. The report also showed that 88% of all new HIV cases among the state's female population were among minority women, according to the Star Tribune. In addition, the report indicated that about 33% of the people newly diagnosed with HIV already had progressed to AIDS by the time they were tested. Hull said that he was "surprised" by the overall decrease in the number of new HIV cases, adding that there is "no clear explanation" for the drop, according to the Star Tribune. "There are too many factors to say that a one-year drop is a trend," he said, adding, "I would like for the [decline] to be all because we're doing a great job on our prevention messages, but I just don't think that that's completely true." He said that Minnesota experienced a similar decline in newly reported HIV cases between 1999 and 2000 but "saw a 5% rise the following year." Hull also said that stigma and "social taboos" have made it difficult to discuss safe sex and HIV prevention in some of the state's minority and immigrant populations, the Star Tribune reports. "It's really a question of how far [the disease] will spread before we can really get the message out," he said (Lerner, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.