A recent report from the Minnesota Department of Health shows rates of sexually transmitted diseases went down in 2020, but some increases and local outbreaks are concerning officials.
Overall, HIV and STD rates in Minnesota went down by 2% compared to 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic also limited STD and HIV testing opportunities, which could impact numbers, said Christine Jones, the STD and HIV section manager at MDH.
Cases of chlamydia, the most reported STD in Minnesota, decreased by 11% in 2020, with 21,942 cases compared to 24,453 in 2019. This marks the first decrease since 2009.
Syphilis cases decreased by 3% with 1,093 cases in 2020. But cases of early stage, more symptomatic syphilis increased by 8% from 2019 to 2020.
And MDH is continuing to monitor a syphilis outbreak in Cass and Beltrami counties, which began to level off this year.
Cases of gonorrhea, the second most reported STD in Minnesota, increased by 27% in 2020 with a total of 10,217 cases reported.
Newly diagnosed cases of HIV decreased by 18% in Minnesota last year with 226 cases reported. But MDH noted two recently declared outbreaks of HIV in Minnesota.
An outbreak was declared last year in Hennepin and Ramsey counties with cases dating back to 2018. And an outbreak declared this year in the Duluth area has cases dating back to 2019.
MDH also noted that more than two-thirds of new HIV cases in Minnesota disproportionately affect people of color.
“Ways to prevent HIV include consistent condom use and the daily pill to prevent HIV (PrEP),” said MDH Medical Director and State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield in a statement.
“It is also really important to get tested regularly for HIV and STDs, and if you are diagnosed with HIV, to take and stay on treatment to make the levels of virus undetectable.