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More Than 300 Minnesotans will be Diagnosed with HIV This Year

December 1, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - This is World AIDS Day, and the Minnesota Department of Health says it remains an important observation. The department's AIDS director, Peter Carr, says the epidemic is not over.

"In Minnesota, we have about 320 new HIV cases diagnosed every year, and we have over 6,800 people living with HIV. Compared to many parts of the world those numbers are low, but it still remains an important public health concern."

In addition to those who have been diagnosed, Carr says hundreds of people are HIV positive and don't know it - mainly because the symptoms start out mild and non-specific.

"You might have a mild fever, some aches and pains, and then they go away. It's not something that in many cases you would even go to a doctor for. Then your body initially mounts a response against the infection that lasts for eight to 10 years, so you don't develop symptoms of AIDS for a long time."

While acquiring HIV meant a death sentence 15 or 20 years ago, Carr says that is no longer the case.

"While there's no cure for HIV, people can live healthy and productive lives and be treated for the infection. It has become largely a manageable infection. The medications used to treat HIV are getting better, easier to take and more effective."

Carr says gay men are still the group most affected. About 60 people die from AIDS in Minnesota each year.
Gay men should be tested once a year, and everyone should be tested once in their life, he adds.

More information is available at http://www.health.state.mn.us.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN