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Minnesota HIV cases show slight decline

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ST. PAUL — The annual tally of new HIV cases in Minnesota dropped slightly last year, the state health department reported Wednesday.

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The state tabulated 301 new cases during 2013, down 4 percent from 314 new cases the previous year.

Among people living with AIDS and the virus that causes it, racial and ethnic minority groups along with men who have sex with men continue to be over-represented, the health department said.

“The data tell us that communities that experience inadequate employment, education, income and housing tend to have higher HIV infection rates,” Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the state health commissioner, said in a statement. “It’s important that we provide adequate access to HIV prevention, education, testing and treatment and care services for those communities.”

New HIV cases remain concentrated in the Twin Cities metro area with 82 percent, according to the new report. Nearly one in three reported HIV cases were among 20- to 29-year-olds.

No new HIV cases were reported among infants during 2013. The number of cases among injection drug users dropped from 23 cases during 2012 to 14 cases in 2013.

Men accounted for the majority of new HIV cases last year. But there were actually 11 percent fewer cases among men in 2013 compared with 2012, while cases among women increased by 22 percent over the time period.

HIV infection can be prevented, health officials say. Prevention strategies include getting treated for HIV, practicing safer sex, using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners. Other prevention steps, according to the health department, include avoiding the sharing of needles and equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs.

In mid-April, the health department reported that the transmission rate of other sexually transmitted diseases in Minnesota increased 10 percent last year. There were 23,133 newly reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2013, compared with 21,465 cases the previous year.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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