STD diagnoses increase in Minnesota

According to 2015 data, young women are the most likely to become infected.

by Hannah Weikel

Sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high in Minnesota, but public health experts have been unable to offer much explanation for the rise.


While infection rates overall have increased, health officials say a surge in chlamydia diagnoses is the most problematic public health issue when it comes to STDs. 
According to state figures released last week, more than 21,000 new cases of chlamydia were reported in Minnesota last year, including at least 228 — a nearly 69 percent increase from 2013 — at the University of Minnesota, according to University data.
With more than twice the number of diagnoses than males in the same age groups last year, females between 15 and 24 years old account for the highest numbers of chlamydia, according to the Minnesota Department of Health’s annual STD report. 
Among females with chlamydia, the largest number of affected women were white, while black women had the highest rate per 100,000 people. 
Gonorrhea and syphilis rates have also increased in Minnesota, though less steadily. 
Men who have sex with men continue to make up the group with the highest rates of early syphilis cases, making up 65 percent of the cases reported in 2015.
Heath officials have struggled to explain the increase in sexually transmitted diseases. 
Krissie Guerard, state health department STD and HIV section manager said they “don’t have a very good reason why” the number of STIs have increased because there are multiple factors to consider. 
Boynton Health Service Director of Public Health and Communications Dave Golden said more people haven’t come in to Boynton to receive testing but said students can go other places near campus to get tested.
Of students who report being sexually active in their lifetime, the percent who also report an STD diagnosis has remained somewhat static since 2007 when the data was first published, according to Boynton’s student surveys.
Still, condom use has dropped at the University, and birth control pills surpassed condoms as the most preferred pregnancy prevention method in 2015 among students. 
Guerard said birth control pills and other female contraceptives have become more widely used in recent years because most health insurance plans in Minnesota now cover the entire cost.  
She said condoms are essential to STD prevention, and although birth control pills have reduced teen pregnancies, they don’t help against STDs.