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Minnesota sees 'disturbingly high' rate of growth in STD cases

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There were nearly 26,000 cases of sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed in Minnesota last year – an all-time high.

That's according to the Minnesota Department of Health's annual STD report released Monday. The report found there were increases in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2015, which fueled the rise of STD diagnoses to 25,986.

That's up 6 percent from 2014 and 33 percent from 2010 – a rate of growth Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger called "disturbingly high."

Ehlinger stressed the need for "improved education about STDs" for the general public and healthcare providers, annual testing for people who are sexually active to help control the spread of STDs, and suggested making services available for communities that have limited access to STD testing and prevention programs due to "longstanding social, medical or income disadvantages."

“These rates also provide further evidence that eroding basic local public health services not only hurts our ability to respond to intractable problems like STDs, but also to emerging infectious diseases like Zika virus," Ehlinger said in the release.

Here are some findings from the report:

  • The number of cases of chlamydia – the most commonly reported STD – reached a new high in 2015, with 21,238 cases. In the past decade, the chlamydia rate increased by 66 percent.
  • The number of cases of gonorrhea stayed steady in 2015, with 4,097 cases reported.
  • Syphilis rates increased by 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, with officials noting there has been a resurgence of cases over the past decade, especially among two groups: women, and men who have sex with men. Cases involving women jumped 70 percent from 2014 to 2015.
  • People of color are disproportionately affected by STDs, as are adolescents and young adults. Sixty-one percent of new cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea involve people ages 15-24.
  • STD rates continue to be the highest in Minneapolis, but officials note the Twin Cities suburbs and greater Minnesota account for 63 percent of cases reported in 2015.

Under state law, health officials must report cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and chancroid to the Department of Health. The agency doesn't keep track of other STDs including herpes, HPV and genital warts.

Health officials also track HIV in the state. Those figures are expected to be released on April 27.

For more information on STDs in Minnesota and what health officials are doing to help control the spread, click here. For graphs and more detailed comparisons of who is being most affected by STDs, click here.

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