In a January 26 press release, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) outlined the disturbing results of a preliminary report on HIV rates in the state. According to the report, there were 368 HIV cases reported in 2009, compared with 326 cases in 2008. This represents a 13 percent increase for 2009 – a 17-year high. Peter Carr, manager of the HIV and Sexually Transmitted Disease Section at MDH, explained that the high rate is driven primarily by an increase in new infections among young men 15 to 24 years of age.
Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H. is the Director of the Youth and AIDS Projects and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Remafedi addressed the MDH data with Cathy Wurzer on MPR’s Morning Edition, stating that the increase in new infections among young gay and bisexual men is very concerning but not surprising. He explained that the message “no sex before marriage” doesn’t help people, like these young men, who are at immediate risk of HIV infection, and that this group needs more specific information for prevention: how to get tested, how to talk to their partner about the risks, and what choices they can make if using condoms for the rest of their lives is not an option. Dr. Remafedi highlights outreach and advocacy (especially in the planning bodies that allocate resources for HIV prevention) as essential to reducing the rate of HIV infection in gay and bisexual youth.
To hear Dr. Remafedi on Morning Edition, visit http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/01/27/aids/.
The full press release on 2009 HIV data from the Minnesota Department of Health is available at http://www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2010/hiv012610.html.
For information about the Youth and AIDS Project at the University of Minnesota, visit http://www.yapmn.com/.