HIV/AIDS Data Report Shows Cases Increasing Among Males

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Cases of reported HIV infection jumped among males in 2006 in Minnesota.

The increase in male cases was partly responsible for the five percent total increase of newly diagnosed cases of 318, compared to 304 new cases in 2005.

There are currently about 5,600 people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota. The surveillance report records the number of infections that are diagnosed and reported during the calendar year.

Health officials noted that the largest increases seen in males were among those aged 15 to 24 years and those over 40. "There were 27 new cases reported in 2005 compared with 35 in this age group in 2006," said Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV Section at MDH. "New cases among males over the age of 40 increased from 71 in 2005 to 98 new cases in 2006."

MDH data show that Latino men had the sharpest increase in HIV cases followed by American Indian men. Male cases among African Americans, African immigrants and whites remained steady in 2006 compared to 2005. Gay and bisexual men represented 64 percent of the new infections in the state in 2006.

"Prevention messages may not be reaching our young males as in the past, leading to their denial in risk and their need to practice safer sex," said Carr. "On the other hand, the rise in cases in older men may be due to safer sex burnout."

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Cases among women represented 28 percent of the total cases reported in 2006. Although the number of cases remained stable among women of color, they still represented 67 percent of all new cases among women. White women have seen increases in the number of cases in each of the last three years.

"We are still seeing higher infection rates among our communities of color when compared to whites," said Carr. Statewide rates for African Americans and Latinos were nearly 11 and 9 times greater, respectively, than whites. Rates for African communities were over 20 times greater than for whites.

Health officials noted that higher rates among communities of color may be due to cultural and language barriers, social stigma, racism, and lack of access to health resources and care.

"One of the consequences of not having access to health care is not being tested," said Carr. "This means that unknowingly infected persons would have missed years of beneficial treatments and may have unknowingly infected others."

MDH data show that about one in three persons diagnosed in 2006 were considered "late testers" which means that they already had AIDS when they were initially tested or were diagnosed with AIDS shortly after testing. An AIDS diagnosis usually occurs after being infected with HIV for eight to ten years. Latinos had the highest percentage of late testers compared to all other population groups at 45 percent. This may be due to cultural and language barriers.

To help find undiagnosed HIV infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed new HIV testing guidelines. The new guidelines call for health providers to routinely provide HIV testing during general health screenings and exams.

Health officials noted that routine HIV testing of pregnant women followed by appropriate treatments have dramatically reduced the rate of transmission from infected mothers to their infants from 25 percent down to less than 1 percent.

"This shows that there is some potential for positive results in offering routine HIV testing to other populations," said Carr. "We

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