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Minnesota: Amid Steady Numbers, a Disaster Is Brewing

April 19, 2006

On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported that new HIV/AIDS cases held steady at 304 diagnoses last year. The figures continued MDOH's trend of reporting about 300 new cases annually for the last 10 years, said officials.

However, beneath the steady numbers is a "recipe for disaster" for gay and bisexual men, a community that is disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, said Kip Beardsley, MDOH's STD/HIV director.

HIV diagnoses increased about 20 percent among gay and bisexual men, who comprised 60 percent of the state's HIV/AIDS cases during the last three years, MDOH reported. That increase, a trebling of syphilis cases last year and rising methamphetamine use that often leads to riskier sexual behavior, could spell disaster, said Beardsley.

MDOH reported that black, Latino and African immigrant communities still have higher infection rates than whites. African immigrants were diagnosed at 30 times the rate of white residents, said MDOH, while diagnoses among blacks and Latinos were 10 and five times higher, respectively, than the rate among whites. Among African immigrants and Latinos diagnoses, 43 percent and 33 percent, respectively, had AIDS, late diagnoses for a virus they could have unwittingly transmitted to others.

Diagnoses declined among intravenous drug users, from about 13 for each of the last three years to just three new cases last year, according to the report. Beardsley credited community organizations working with IDUs for the improvement. In the past three years, only one mother-to-child transmission has been reported.

Since 1982, MDOH has recorded 7,824 HIV/AIDS cases. An estimated 5,233 of those people still live in the state. For the full surveillance report, visit

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Excerpted from:
Minneapolis Star Tribune
04.18.06; Robert Franklin

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