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HIV/AIDS cases on the rise

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HIV/AIDS testing
More than 2,000 volunteers have enrolled in HIV/AIDS studies at the University of Minnesota since the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit program began in the 1980s.
Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota

There's been another slight increase in the number of new HIV infections in the state. 

The Minnesota Department of Health says there were 325 new cases in 2007, compared to 318 in 2006. There was also a small increase in HIV cases the prior year. 

HIV/AIDS Surveillance Epidemiologist Louisa Pessoa-Brandao says the trend is worrisome.

"It's a little bit disheartening in the sense that the numbers are not going the direction we would like them to be going," she said. "I would say it's a wakeup call that HIV is still -- it continues to be an issue in Minnesota."

Pessoa-Brandao says the increaes could be related to more relaxed attitudes about HIV and AIDS.

"I think people just don't see it as the same kind of threat that it was, and so I think there might be some complacency," said Pessoa-Brandao. "And the message, 'You need to protect yourself and you need to be safe' just doesn't have the same ring to it when you're not so much worried about dying."

Infection rates are higher among communities of color when compared to whites, and the number of new HIV cases among males ages 13-24 has doubled over the last six years. 

Pessoa-Brandao says that suggests that some populations may not be getting the right prevention messages. 

Health officials estimate nearly 6,000 people in Minnesota know they are living with HIV.