Minnesota Reports 325 New HIV/AIDS Diagnoses in 2007, Health Department Report Says
There were 325 new HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in Minnesota in 2007, up from 318 in 2006 and 304 in 2005, according to a report released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health, the AP/Rochester Post-Bulletin reports (AP/Rochester Post-Bulletin, 3/15). The increase represents the highest annual increase since the mid-1990s, according to Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV Section at MDH (MDH release, 4/15).
According to the report, 8,504 Minnesota residents have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS since 1982 when MDH began tracking the disease, including 2,912 people who have died of AIDS-related causes. Men accounted for 249 of the new diagnosed cases in 2007. Among the men, 52% were white, 32% black, 13% Hispanic and 3% were other races.
Diagnosed cases among black U.S.-born men in Minnesota increased 42% from 36 cases in 2006 to 54 in 2007, while diagnosed cases among black African-born men increased 33% from 18 to 24. Among white men, new diagnosed cases increased from 125 in 2006 to 129 in 2007, and diagnosed cases among Hispanic men decreased from 37 to 33, the report found. The report also found the number of new diagnosed cases among males ages 13 to 24 more than doubled from 18 in 2001 to 38 in 2007 (Wolfe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/15). According to the report, 56% of new diagnosed cases in men were among men who have sex with men (MDH release, 4/15).
Of the 76 women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS last year, 26% were white, 54% black, 9% Hispanic, 7% American Indian and 4% were other races, the report found. According to the report, the number of new HIV/AIDS cases is increasing among minority communities, particularly among African immigrants. HIV prevalence was 13 times higher among U.S.-born blacks than among whites, 28 times higher among African-born blacks and eight times higher among Hispanics. The report said the disparities could be because of less education, access to health care, higher poverty, racism and greater drug use (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/15).
In addition, the report found that about one-third of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the state last year were "late testers," meaning they had already progressed to AIDS or were diagnosed with AIDS soon after receiving an HIV test. About half of Hispanics were considered late testers, the highest percentage among all groups, the report said.
Carr said the higher prevalence among minorities "may indicate" that the health department is "not reaching all communities equally with our prevention messages and programs." He added that it also could "mean that people are not being tested early enough in their infection to help stop" further transmission of the virus (MDH release, 4/15).
The report is available online.
St. Paul Pioneer Press Examines 'Emerging Challenge' of Supporting Long-Term HIV/AIDS Survivors
In related news, the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Tuesday examined the "emerging challenge" in providing support services for long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS. According to the Pioneer Press, the percentage of HIV-positive people in Minnesota who are ages 50 or older increased from 16% in 2002 to 25% in 2007.
"We need to continually reinforce safe sex and the importance of not transmitting this virus further," Lorraine Teel of the Minnesota AIDS Project said, adding, "The challenge of maintaining 100% perfect behavior over a lifetime is very difficult." Luisa Pessoa-Brandao of MDH's STD and HIV Section, said that public health officials also are concerned that people have "become complacent" about HIV/AIDS as treatment and survival rates have improved. Pessoa-Brandao said state officials are seeking new ways of bringing attention to the epidemic and are encouraging routine HIV testing (Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/15).