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PNS Daily Newscast - September 24 


Update: A second accuser emerges with misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: We take you to a state where more than 60,000 kids are chronically absent from school; and we'll let you know why the rural digital divide can be a twofold problem.

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World AIDS Day Observed Amid Concerns in Minnesota

IMAGE: This Sunday (12/1) is World AIDS Day. While infection rates have plateaued statewide and nationally, there are some indicators that could point to trouble ahead for Minnesota.
IMAGE: This Sunday (12/1) is World AIDS Day. While infection rates have plateaued statewide and nationally, there are some indicators that could point to trouble ahead for Minnesota.
November 29, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS – This Sunday marks the observance of World AIDS Day and it comes at a time when there are rising concerns in Minnesota.

David Kurtzon, program manager of Teenwise Minnesota, says the rate of new HIV cases has pretty much plateaued locally, but that could change as fewer young people are protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.

"We have noted in the most recent Minnesota Student Survey a falling rate of condom use among adolescents,” he explains. “And while, at this point, it's difficult to determine exactly what that impact will be, there's certainly concern that that could lead to an uptick in adolescent HIV infections in our state."

In Minnesota, nearly 3,500 deaths have been attributed to HIV and AIDS, and there are now more than 7,500 people living with the disease statewide.

In addition to more use of protection, Kurtzon says another key to helping stop the spread of HIV is getting regular screenings for a greater number of people in at-risk populations.

As it is now, he says the age group most commonly diagnosed is 25 to 34, but many were unknowingly infected long before.

"And they're not finding out about it until a decade later, when they come in for a test or they become really sick,” he says. “So while we have made some advances, testing in general would catch more infections earlier, which means we could treat much better, because as we know with these new anti-retro viral drugs that are so effective, the earlier you can get going with them, the better."

One strategy that Kurtzon says is working to increase testing for some clinics in Minnesota is reaching out into the community.

"There are many cases where, especially young people but adults as well, are not going to come to your clinic or hospital proactively,” he explains. “But if you're there – if you're at their church or at their community center and you're offering free testing – you can often get a lot of people in the door."

Over the past 30 years worldwide, more than 60 million have been infected with HIV and AIDS and 25 million have died.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN