Minnesota STIs Reach a Record High in 2008; Minorities Remain Disproportionately Affected
In Minnesota, the number of new sexually transmitted infections in 2008 reached a record high for the 13th consecutive year, according to a report the Minnesota Department of Health released on Wednesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have been increasing since 1996 and remain particularly high among minority groups, officials said.
According to the report, there were 17,650 new chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis infections in 2008, a 3.5% increase since 2007. The rate increased despite a significant decline in the number of gonorrhea cases. Chlamydia represented the majority of new STIs in 2008, totaling 14,350 cases, a 7% increase from 2007, according to the report. Officials said the increase in part is because of improvements in testing methods and screening.
Hispanics' chlamydia rate is six times higher than that of whites, while blacks have a rate that is 16 times higher than whites, according to the Star-Tribune. The chlamydia rate among blacks in the state is nearly twice the national average.
Gonorrhea was the second most commonly reported STI in 2008, with 3,036 new infections reported, a 12% decline from the previous year. Most of the reported cases were among racial minorities. Officials said that sexual behavior does not account for the higher rates among minorities. Minorities tend to be poorer, have less access to health care and health insurance, which reduces their likelihood of being tested and treated for STIs. In addition, minorities traditionally have had higher STI rates than others, "perpetuating what health officials describe as a self-sustaining epidemic," the Star-Tribune reports.
New syphilis cases increased 40% in 2008 to 163 cases; almost all were among young MSM.
While lawmakers introduced legislation this year to provide funding for screening and sexual education efforts, it is not expected to pass. The state health department plans to develop a statewide prevention campaign for all STIs, including HIV/AIDS. In addition, other departments have already used federal grants to target high-risk groups such as young black men (Marcotty, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/1).
The report is available online.