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MN health officials: Sexually transmitted diseases hit new high

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STDs in Minnesota
Data source: Minnesota STD Surveillance System
Courtesy Minnesota Department of Health

Updated: 4:45 p.m. | Posted: 11:55 a.m.

Minnesota's count of sexually transmitted diseases hit another unhappy record in 2014 with reported cases up 6 percent from 2013.

Chlamydia again topped the list, with infections reaching a new high of 19,897 cases last year, the Minnesota Department of Health said in a report released Thursday.

There were 24,599 cases of sexually transmitted diseases in 2014, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

Syphilis jumped 17 percent with 629 cases in 2014 compared to 537 in 2013. 

"While new infections continued to be centered within the Twin Cities metropolitan area and among males, particularly among men who have sex with men the presence of syphilis among females, especially those who are pregnant, continues to be of concern," the department said in a statement.

Krissie Guerard, HIV/STD section manager at the Minnesota Department of Health, says they're trying to convince more people to get tested, and that could be one reason for the increase. 

"One thing that's kind of hard to gauge is the fact that we only receive positive test results, we don't see negative test results," Guerard said. "So it's hard to say that this could potentially be because of an increase in testing."

Among the report's other findings:

• Most chlamydia cases occurred in teens and young adults ages 15 to 24. One in three cases occurred outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area, with at least two cases reported in every county in Minnesota.

• Gonorrhea remains the second most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in Minnesota with 4,073. For the first time in the last decade, the rate in males is higher than the rate in females. Seventy-nine percent of cases were reported in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

• Infection rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea are higher among communities of color and American Indians versus whites. 

Health officials called for greater communication about sexually transmitted diseases and their consequences. Testing, diagnosing and treating these diseases in their early stages are critical, they said. 

The diseases can be prevented or reduces by abstaining from sex, limiting the number of sexual partners, always using latex condoms during sex, and not sharing needles for drug use, piercing or tattooing, the department said.