Minnesota generally ranks among the states with the lowest population-adjusted rates of sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis. While the state’s position is positive generally, the reality is that some STDs are becoming more common in Minnesota, a trend that reflects larger movement in the U.S. that has seen four straight years of increases in these STDs.

Which sexually transmitted diseases and infections are most common here in Minnesota, how have their rates changed over time, and where in the state are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis most prevalent relative to the remainder of Minnesota? To understand this information, we’ll examine data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health.

Chlamydia Rates in Minnesota

More than 23,000 people were diagnosed with chlamydia in 2018 in the state of Minnesota. After adjusting for population differences, Minnesota ranks 35th of all states with a rate that’s about 16% lower than the overall U.S. level.

Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people, bottom 20

Hawaii 479.5
Kansas 466.2
Oregon 455.2
Nebraska 450.7
Minnesota 444
Iowa 443.2
Washington 442.2
Pennsylvania 441.5
Montana 437.4
Kentucky 435.4
North Dakota 432.5
Massachusetts 425.7
New Jersey 392
Idaho 368.4
Wyoming 365.8
Maine 342.1
Utah 332.2
New Hampshire 330.5
Vermont 297.5
West Virginia 226.1
Total 528.8

Between 2017 and 2018, Minnesota’s rate of chlamydia cases remained steady, though the rate has climbed since 2014.

Minnesota chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)

2014 375
2015 400
2016 428
2017 444
2018 444

Minnesota has the third-lowest rate of chlamydia among all Midwestern states, and Minnesota’s rate is nearly 25% lower than regional leader Illinois.

Chlamydia infection rate, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)

Illinois 589.9
Missouri 536.4
Ohio 528.6
Indiana 514.2
South Dakota 512.7
Michigan 511.9
Wisconsin 485
Kansas 466.2
Nebraska 450.7
Minnesota 444
Iowa 443.2
North Dakota 432.5

 Gonorrhea Rates in Minnesota

Minnesota has the 30th-highest rate of gonorrhea per 100,000 people, placing the state in the bottom half of the nation with a rate about 17% lower than the overall U.S. gonorrhea rate.

Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people

Florida 153.7
Colorado 153
South Dakota 149.1
Virginia 143.3
Minnesota 142
Nebraska 139.1
Washington 136
Wisconsin 135
North Dakota 127.4
Oregon 122.7
Iowa 119.9
Pennsylvania 119.2
Connecticut 109.4
Massachusetts 106.5
New Jersey 105.5
Rhode Island 102.9
Hawaii 95.1
Utah 83.3
Montana 75
West Virginia 70.8
Wyoming 70.4
Idaho 58.6
Maine 46.6
New Hampshire 38.4
Vermont 32.5
Total 171.9

Gonorrhea has become more common in Minnesota over the past half-decade, with the rate nearly doubling between 2014 and 2018.

Minnesota gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)

2014 77
2015 77
2016 96
2017 123
2018 142

Ohio is only Midwestern state with a gonorrhea rate in the top 10 nationally, and Minnesota ranks in the bottom half of the region.

Gonorrhea infection rate, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)

Ohio 216.3
Missouri 214.8
Illinois 186.4
Indiana 177.5
Kansas 156.3
Michigan 154.7
South Dakota 149.1
Minnesota 142
Nebraska 139.1
Wisconsin 135
North Dakota 127.4
Iowa 119.9

Syphilis Rates in Minnesota

Minnesota’s population-adjusted rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases places the state 32nd overall with a rate that’s just over half the overall U.S. rate.

Primary and secondary syphilis infections per 100,000 people

New Jersey 5.6
Minnesota 5.5
Colorado 5.3
Maine 4.9
Michigan 4.8
Indiana 4.8
Kansas 4.6
Montana 4.6
South Dakota 3.8
Utah 3.8
Idaho 3.8
West Virginia 3.4
Iowa 3.2
New Hampshire 3.2
Connecticut 3.1
Wisconsin 3
Nebraska 2.3
Vermont 2.1
Alaska 1.8
Wyoming 0.7
Total 9.5

Minnesota’s rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases has remained steady after a slight drop between 2016 and 2017, but it’s gone up by about 15% since 2014.

Minnesota primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)

2014 4.8
2015 4.6
2016 5.8
2017 5.5
2018 5.5

No Midwestern state has a syphilis rate in the top 10 nationally, and only two appear in the top 20. Still, Minnesota is among the top half of the region in the syphilis rate.

Primary and secondary syphilis infection rates, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)

Illinois 9.6
Missouri 8.3
Ohio 6.3
North Dakota 5.8
Minnesota 5.5
Michigan 4.8
Indiana 4.8
Kansas 4.6
South Dakota 3.8
Iowa 3.2
Wisconsin 3
Nebraska 2.3

HIV & Other STD Rates in Minnesota

HIV

More than 275 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Minnesota in 2017, but the population-adjusted rate of HIV in our state means that Minnesota ranks 34th overall with a rate less than half the overall U.S. HIV frequency. Additionally, Minnesota recorded a decline in HIV between 2016 and 2017. See also HIV test options.

Hepatitis B & C

Acute cases of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are less common in Minnesota than the rest of the country, though both are becoming more common here in our state. Minnesota’s rate of acute hep B is less than half the national rate, but the state has seen its rate go up by one-third over the past few years, and the state’s acute hep C rate has jumped by about half in that same time. See also hepatitis test options.

HPV

Minnesota has the seventh-lowest rate of cancer cases related to human papillomavirus. HPV, while the most common STD in the world, is difficult to pinpoint statistically because the vast majority of cases so no symptoms at all, so few people get tested for it. One way to understand the scope of the HPV crisis in a state is to look at cancers caused by the virus, including cervical, penile, anal and other cancers. Minnesota’s HPV-related cancer rate is 10.3 per 100,000 compared to the national median of 11.7 per 100,000. See also HPV test options.

STDs in Minnesota Cities & Counties

Sexually transmitted diseases are much more common in urban areas, and the Twin Cities account for an outsized proportion of STD cases.

Chlamydia

About 1 in 3 cases of chlamydia in Minnesota in 2018 were diagnosed in people living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Minnesota counties by chlamydia infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10

Blue Earth 711.0
Hennepin 683.0
Ramsey 668.0
Olmsted 497.0
Beltrami 493.0
Mower 455.0
Nobles 444.0
St. Louis 423.0
Stearns 398.0
Anoka 390.0

Gonorrhea

The Twin Cities combined to account for nearly half of all gonorrhea infections in Minnesota in 2018.

Minnesota counties by gonorrhea infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10

Hennepin 287
Ramsey 262
Beltrami 221
Cass 203
Olmsted 180
Freeborn 131
St. Louis 126
Mower 125
Anoka 110
Clay 107

Primary and secondary syphilis

About 48% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in Minnesota in 2018 were in people living in Minneapolis or St. Paul, though the suburban Twin Cities area accounted for nearly one-third.

Primary and secondary syphilis rate (cases per 100,000 people), by area of residence

Minneapolis 29
St. Paul 10.5
Suburban Twin Cities 4.2
Greater Minnesota 2.4

Conclusion

While Minnesota ranks among the states with the lowest prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases and infections, the trends are not moving in the right direction here in our state. Prevalence of most common STDs is on the rise, but everyday people can make a difference by getting themselves tested to ensure they are not passing STDs along to their sexual partners. The vast majority of people who are infected with STDs are unaware, so finding out your status is the first step to battling the STD epidemic in Minnesota.

Additional References

Note: Some states have published more recent data for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis. For states in which that’s the case, we have substituted the individual state data for 2018 and used that in our rankings, while other states’ rankings are based on 2017 numbers. In some cases, we assume that when the full national dataset is published by the CDC, states’ positions relative to other states will change some, though those changes are unlikely to be dramatic, since the CDC data comes from the states.