2009 Minnesota STD rates down 5 percent

The total number of STD reports dropped from 17,649 in 2008 to 16,702 in 2009.

Raghav Mehta

Reports of sexually transmitted diseases declined 5 percent in 2009 according to a study released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health. While chlamydia cases remained steady, reports of gonorrhea and syphilis decreased from the previous year. The total number of STD reports dropped from 17,649 in 2008 to 16,702 in 2009. Chlamydia was MinnesotaâÄôs most widely reported disease last year, with 14,186 cases, up slightly from 2008. Nearly 70 percent of those cases were among teens and young adults ages 15-24. Gonorrhea cases decreased 24 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, while syphilis decreased 28 percent. Peter Carr, manager of the STD and HIV section of MDH, said that while the department canâÄôt pinpoint a single factor that would account for the drop, things like screening practices, more people being tested and more effective partner notification programs could explain the change in numbers. âÄúItâÄôs good news. WeâÄôre glad to see this, but thereâÄôs no clear explanations at this point,âÄù Carr said. But the drop in STD rates comes at a curious time, considering last yearâÄôs spike in HIV cases. According to an MDH study, the number of new HIV cases rose 13 percent in 2009 with 368 new HIV infections reported âÄî the highest number in 17 years. But Carr stressed that HIV impacts a different population than chlamydia and gonorrhea. âÄúThe increase we saw in HIV was almost totally driven by increases among young gay men,âÄù Carr said. According to a 2009 Boynton College Student Health Survey report, 7.1 percent of male and 13.4 percent of female Minnesota college students reported having a sexually transmitted disease other than HIV within their lifetime. The same survey stated 14.3 percent of University of Minnesota students reported being diagnosed with an STD in their lifetime. Among Minnesota college students, HPV and genital warts are the most common diseases, affecting more than 6 percent of sexually active students. Chlamydia affects 5.8 percent of those students, and only 0.5 percent report being HIV-positive. Carr said most of the cases are happening as a result of unprotected sex. Among students who are sexually active in their lifetime, the Boynton survey reported 52.9 percent used a condom the last time they engaged in vaginal intercourse. âÄúItâÄôs a complex issue that is going to require a multi-pronged response. We could be doing a better job of educating our youth about general awareness that sexually transmitted infections are an issue and making sure they are aware of ways to protect themselves,âÄù Carr said.