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H-I-V Cases Show "Moderate" Increase in Minnesota

April 16, 2007


New state health figures out this morning show a 5 percent hike in reported HIV cases over the past year. Lorraine Teel with the Minnesota AIDS Project says that translates to just over 300 people. Although it's a modest increase, and that's good news, she believes we can do better.

"More people are living with HIV in this state than ever before. We do think that new cases will go up, absent an HIV-related vaccine and more widespread and available HIV education."

She notes the most striking finding is the increase in cases of HIV among Minnesota Latinos. Even though they're less than 4 percent of the state's population, they represent 14 percent of the reported cases. She wants to see more focus on education efforts on the Latino community. For Teel, the report is a "mixed bag."

"There are nearly 30 percent more individuals living with HIV in Minnesota than there were in 2001. So, in a sense, the good news is that even though there are so many more people living with this virus, we have only seen a modest increase in new cases."

The report shows women of color are disproportionately affected, representing over two-thirds of the new HIV cases among females. And young Minnesotans continue to be at risk, representing almost 20 percent of the newly-diagnosed cases last year. Teel believes we need a broad-based approach to preventing sexually-transmitted diseases.

"Certainly, education about sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV should begin at home. Unfortunately in many cases, it doesn't. So, it falls to our schools to provide that education. In addition, we need public service campaigns, be they billboards or announcements on radio. We need to have your physician, when you go in for your annual physical, talk to you about HIV and STD risk."

She notes a bill under consideration in the State Legislature would require comprehensive sexuality education for all students, as a way to protect their health and reduce teen pregnancy.

More information is available online at www.health.state.mn.us and at www.mnaidsproject.org.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN