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HIV rates rise
among Minnesota gay men

HIV rates rise
among Minnesota gay men

HIV infections are up 20% among gay men over the last three years

Health officials in Minnesota this week announced that new HIV infections reported in the state in 2005 held steady over 2004 levels, but that the infection rate actually rose among gay and bisexual men, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports. A total of 304 new HIV cases were reported last year, roughly the same number reported each year for the past decade, but health officials say the number of cases reported among gay and bisexual men has climbed 20% over the past three years. Gay men accounted for about 60% of the cases reported in 2005.

Health officials say the rising HIV rate among gay men is closely linked to a tripling of syphilis cases reported in the state and climbing levels of crystal methamphetamine use. Kip Beardsley, the health department's HIV and sexually transmitted disease director, says the data show risky behavior is increasing among gay men, which he calls a "recipe for disaster" that could lead to an explosion of HIV and STD cases.

The health department data also shows that HIV is hitting people of color disproportionately hard. African-Americans were diagnosed with HIV infection at 10 times the rate of white residents; Latinos were diagnosed at a rate five times higher. One third of the cases reported among Latinos had already progressed to an AIDS diagnosis at the time of HIV antibody testing, according to the health department. (The Advocate)

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