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MDH: STDs up 10 percent in 2012

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State health officials say the number of reportable sexually transmitted diseases--chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis--increased 10 percent last year.

According to a Minnesota Department of Health news release issued Thursday, there were 21,465 cases reported in 2012 compared to 19,547 cases reported in 2011.

The largest increase was seen in the number of gonorrhea cases, up 35 percent from 2011. MDH says nearly two-thirds of all gonorrhea cases occurred in teens and young adults ages 15 to 24. Eighty percent of cases reported were in the Twin Cities metro.

Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the state health commissioner, says the health department is developing a response plan to address the spike.

Chlamydia, the number one reported infectious disease, reached a new high of 18,048 cases last year, a 7 percent increase from 2011.

Higher infection rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea occurred among communities of color and American Indians, according to the report.

Syphilis cases dropped 8 percent. New infections continued to occur in males, particularly men who have sex with men.

"The encouraging news within the report shows that we had a drop in syphilis cases," said Ehlinger. "This could be a result of investing in community-based agencies such as the Hennepin County Public Health Clinic and the Stop Syph MN Campaign."

The diseases can lead to serious long-term health consequences if left untreated.

"Since most STDs don't show symptoms, it's important to get tested regularly if you're sexually active," said Ehlinger.

Public health and medical communities recognize April as STD Awareness Month, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A new CDC analysis shows half of all new infections occur among young people ages 15-24, HPV (Human papillomavirus) being the most common.

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