Sexually-transmitted diseases and diseases passed on by needle use rose at an "alarming" rate in 2016, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
STD figures for last year showed a 30 percent rise in new cases of syphilis, a 25 percent bump in new gonorrhea cases, and a 7 percent rise in chlamydia. Chlamydia and gonorrhea were particularly prevalent among 15-24 year olds.
MDH found a trend of rising STDs among people who use drugs, particularly heroin, prescription opiates and methamphetamine.
Cases of HIV remained relatively stable, but there were more new cases among drug users and communities of color, while hepatitis C infections rose 38 percent, with injection drug users accounting for half of the new cases.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said the figures come after a period of years when funding for prevention of infectious disease in Minnesota has been reduced, and that this could continue unless further resources are allocated for combating STDs.
“This alarming rise in STDs and hepatitis C is of urgent concern,” he added. "MDH and local public health departments, clinicians and our community partners are using every resource we have to maintain the health of Minnesotans and protect them from the health consequences that can be caused by untreated disease."
Here's a look at the reported cases in 2016 compared to 2015:
- Chlamydia – 22,675 cases in 2016. 21,238 in 2015. Worst affected are 15-24 year olds.
- Gonorrhea – 5,104 cases in 2016. Up from 4,097 in 2015. Four-out-of-five cases came from the Twin Cities metro.
- Syphilis – 852 cases in 2016, a rise from 653 in 2015. New infections mainly found in Twin Cities among males, with sexually active gay men particularly affected. However, greater Minnesota cases also rose 58 percent.
- HIV – a slight reduction on 2015, with 290 cases reported last year compared to 298 the year before. 59 percent of cases were among communities of color and majority of cases were sexually-active gay men.
- Hepatitis C – 51 cases in 2016, up from 37 in 2015. Rose highest among American Indians. 28 cases reported injection drug use.
Health officials are recommending that sexually active people and those who inject drugs get tested once a year for STDs, HIV and Hep C, particularly considering these diseases don't show physical symptoms immediately.
All of the diseases are highly preventable, either by using the correct condom during sex, limiting the number of sexual partners, and not sharing injection drug, tattoo, or piercing equipment.