STIs at a Peak in Minnesota

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on a rise in Minnesota. From 2010 to 2011, there was an 8% increase in bacterial-related cases.  Chlamydia, for example, has more than doubled from its dip seen in 1996. This data—from Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) 2011 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Statistics Report—includes information on Minnesota’s most commonly reported communicable infections: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and chancroid.

This newly released data shows disparities between race and sex; for example, Chlamydia rates increased 20% in one year for the American Indian population. Differences in geographic regions (metro areas versus rural MN) also exist: the City of Minneapolis has the highest rates of Chlamydia in the state. There has also been resurgence in syphilis since its last stable point in 2002; men who have sex with men are the most impacted.

Physicians and laboratories are mandated to report these infections to MDH, and the Partner Services Program helps collect the information. The Partner Services Program ensures sexual partners of untreated cases also get service, and that data on positive cases is sent for surveillance reporting. The State does not require MDH to gather data on other communicable STIs (e.g. HPV).

An improved Minnesotan surveillance program or increased screening and reporting requirements may have influenced these rates. In addition, this year MDH used 2010 Census data as reference points for population incidence rates; this may explain the differences seen between the beginning of the decade—which used 2000 as a reference—and 2011. Even so, Minnesota has consistently been a gold standard for passing pro-public health policies. These statistics are alarming; why are we seeing an increase in preventative diseases? In fact, underreporting is an issue because asymptomatic and treated cases are not reported to MDH, and this surveillance report does not include people from federal and private prisons.

With these statistics, where should  we target interventions and prioritize our resources?

To access the information, visit: MDH’s STI website includes some great graphs, charts, and an archived webinar with detailed slides.