The stats for 2009 are out: new HIV cases are at a 17 year high in MN... up 13%.
In young gay/bi men ages 15-24, new HIV cases nearly DOUBLED.
Here at the clinic , we're working more and more with guys who are taking off the condoms within the first month or two of dating a new BF. Right now, many of the young guys testing HIV+ take off the condoms early in a relationship (within 3-6 months).
The number of new HIV cases in the state across all demographics increased by 13 percent in 2009, marking a 17-year high. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), there were 368 HIV cases reported in 2009, compared with 326 cases in 2008.
“We haven’t seen the annual number of reported HIV cases at this level since 1992,” said Peter Carr, manager of the HIV and Sexually Transmitted Disease Section at MDH. “The increase is driven primarily by a large increase among males 15 to 24 years of age.”
Young gay/bi men are getting hit. Hard.
Findings included in the report:
- Compared to 38 young gay/bi guys testing HIV+ in 2008, 68 new cases were reported in 2009
- Unprotected anal sex was main risk factor for young men
- Of young male cases, 45% were white, 39% percent African American, 11% Latino, 3% Asian, 1% African-born, and 1% multi-racial.
- The new HIV cases remained concentrated within the Twin Cities metropolitan area
“The good news here is that persons at risk are coming forward to be tested,” said Carr. “The challenge is that people may be letting down their guard when it comes to practicing safer sex. Althoug there are medications to help treat HIV infection, some may mistakenly feel the threat of dying from HIV/AIDS is over.”
If you and your guy are thinking about barebacking or have started already, set up an appointment for HIV testing with the HIM Program.
HIM staff are happy to provide sexual health counseling, and often answer questions like "when do the condoms come off?" and "are we past the 'window period' for accurate HIV testing?"
SYPHILIS... IT'S BACK!
About 10 years ago, syphilis was all but gone in Minnesota. In 2001, there were 5 new syphilis cases in gay/bisexual men.In 2007, 114 new cases. Now, for 2008, 158 new cases of early syphilis were reported, an increase of 40% over the previous year. Gay and bisexual men now represent 85% of all new infections here in Minnesota.
Of special concern is that over 40% of newly infected gay and bisexual men were also HIV positive in 2008.
Reasons why syphilis testing is important for gay/bi men:
- It's easy to get through oral sex (getting/giving head)
- 23% of cases were between 18 - 24 years of age
- 85% of cases were among men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Over 40% were co-infected with HIV
- Internet chat rooms, anonymous sex, and no or infrequent condom use were common risks
The good news: it's completely curable. So if you're sexually active and haven't been tested in the past 6 - 12 months, set up an appointment today!
For more information about syphilis, check out our syphilis website: www.StopSyphiliwNOW.org.
Some other resources for gay and bi guys here in Minnesota have been also been developed. Feel free to check out our syphilis fact sheet as well as the Minnesota Department of Health's website quiz "Club Syph".
IN THE NEWS
The data is in... Minnesota Department of Health reports that there were 326 new HIV infections in Minnesota in 2008, up from the average of 300 or so cases Minnesota has seen over the last 10+ years. There are now an estimated 6,220 people aware of their HIV status currently living in Minnesota (and over 2,500 infected but not tested!).
The biggest increases seen over the past 7 years? Males, ages 13 to 24, where cases have more than doubled since 2001 (from 18 new cases to 42 new cases in 2007). Condom-fatigue, social barriers to sexual health information and materials, depression and isolation continue to fuel the epidemic in the gay and bisexual men's community, who represent 85% of the new HIV infections among males last year.
PLAY... "POS OR NOT"
Can you tell if they're HIV-positive?
The new website Posornot.com shows photographs and short biographies of men and women ages 21 to 30, asking visitors to determine if each is HIV-positive or negative. It was launched in late April and was played about 5.1 million times by 400,000 people during its first three weeks. According to the Times, the "message is that you can't judge someone's virus status by looks, occupation or taste in music" (Stelter, New York Times, 5/19).
Posornot.com was launched by MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation, in partnership with POZ Magazine. During the game, HIV-positive participants share when they first learned their HIV status, and HIV-negative participants talk about how they have been affected by the disease. The game also provides information about HIV prevention, as well as local HIV and sexually transmitted infection resources from CDC (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/1).
NEW! ONLINE PARTNER NOTIFICATION TOOL
The Internet has increasingly become a place for guys to meet sex partners in Minnesota. Internet hookups have also facilitated a number of new STD infections in the state. As a result, the HIM Program has partnered with an online software company to offer a new way for people to notify partners of possible exposures to HIV and other STDs.
This online partner notification service is called InSPOT, and is an online service available to the entire state of Minnesota. InSPOT can be used to send an E-card to your sex partners notifying them that they may have been exposed to a particular STD and forwards them on to the InSPOT website for more information on the STD in question and clinics in their area to get tested and treated.
E-cards can be sent anonymously or with your e-mail included. The service is completely anonymous and your identifying information is not collected - only zip codes and very basic demographics are collected for funding purposes.
We are now able to offer online appointments for HIM Program services. Whether you're looking for rapid HIV testing, syphilis screening, someone to talk to about sexual health, or referrals to community resources, we're available!
Both syphilis and HIV are on the rise in our community, so if you're sexually active and it's been 6 - 12 months since your last tests, we're happy to provide low-to-no cost testing services for you!
Click here to set up an appointment today and get the plumbin' checked!