Sexually transmitted diseases reach all-time high

Nearly 26,000 STD diagnoses in 2015

An all-time high of 25,986 sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were diagnosed in Minnesota in 2015, according to a report released today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The number of STDs increased by six percent from 2014 and by 33 percent from five years ago when 19,547 STDs were reported.

The STDs that health care providers are required to report to MDH include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. “This disturbingly high rate of growth in the number of STD cases shows the need for improved education about STDs among both the general public and healthcare providers,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health.

“These rates also provide further evidence that eroding basic local public health services not only hurts our ability to respond to intractable problems like STDs, but also to emerging infectious diseases like Zika virus.”


Key findings

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD and the No. 1 reported infectious disease in the state. The majority of cases occurred in teens and young adults, ages 15 to 24.

Gonorrhea remains the second most commonly reported STD in Minnesota. Forty-six percent of all gonorrhea cases occurred among 15- to 24-year-olds, and 77 percent of cases occurred in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Syphilis cases increased to 654 in 2015 from 629 in 2014, a 4-percent increase. A new concern emerged with a 70-percent increase between 2014 and 2015 in syphilis cases among women, primarily women of child-bearing age in all racial and ethnic groups,

The MDH report also shows higher infection rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea among communities of color and American Indians when compared to Whites. Higher syphilis infection rates were seen among American Indian and African American women.

“Addressing disparities is a health department priority, particularly among those racial and ethnic groups with limited access to STD testing and prevention programs due to longstanding social, medical or income disadvantages,” Ehlinger said. “Expanding our partnerships within these communities will help to ensure that these services are available and culturally acceptable.”

Ways to prevent getting or spreading STDs include abstaining from sexual contact, limiting the number of sexual partners, always using latex condoms the right way during sex, and not sharing needles for drug use, piercing or tattooing. Partners of STD-infected patients should get tested based on their risk behaviors and be treated at the same time to prevent reinfection and spread to others.


For confidential information about the prevention and treatment of STDs and testing locations, call the Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline at 1-800-78-FACTS (voice or TTY), 651-645-9360 (Metro area), Text ASKMN to 66746 or visit their website at Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline.

Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.