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Minnesota Makes Bold Moves to Eliminate HIV/AIDS

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, people at greatest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS include intravenous drug users and men who have sex with other men. (rebcenter-moscow/Pixabay)
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, people at greatest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS include intravenous drug users and men who have sex with other men. (rebcenter-moscow/Pixabay)
June 10, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota has introduced aggressive new measures to end HIV and AIDS in the state.

The Minnesota Department of Health reports about 300 new cases of the human immunodeficiency virus are confirmed each year. That's well below rates in Southern states, where more than half of the nearly 40,000 new HIV cases were reported in 2017.

Christine Jones, section manager with the Minnesota Department of Health, said the goal is to reduce HIV diagnoses in Minnesota at least 25% by 2025, and 75% by 2035.

"If you were to look at a graph of our statistics, while our new infections have stayed pretty stable - like I said, around that 300 - we are seeing the number of deaths decrease dramatically,” Jones said.

Minnesota's new program, END HIV MN, aims to prevent new infections, increase the level of care for people who are HIV-positive, and ensure that people who are diagnosed have stable housing and coordinated treatment.

Once considered a death sentence, new medications have made HIV more manageable to live with since the first case of AIDS was reported here in 1984. Jones said the goal of the new plan is to make sure that 90% of Minnesotans who have tested positive for HIV know their status.

"We have the tools, and now it's time to say, ‘OK, how can we comprehensively look at our state, put a strategy in place, to actually use these tools in the most effective way?’” Jones said. “You know, it's a whole different story than it was a couple decades ago."

It's estimated about half of all young people living with HIV in the United States don't use life-saving medication because they either can't afford it or don't know they're infected, because they haven't been tested. In recent years, preventive drugs also have been introduced for those who think they are at risk of contracting the virus.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN