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
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
HIV & Other STD Rates in Minnesota
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.
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.
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
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
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
|Suburban Twin Cities||4.2|
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.
- Minnesota Department of Health, STD Surveillance Report Data Tables, Minnesota 2018. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/stds/stats/2018/stdtables.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV Surveillance Report, Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/library/reports/surveillance/cdc-hiv-surveillance-report-2017-vol-29.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Surveillance for Viral Hepatitis – United States, 2016. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/2016surveillance/index.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/SRtables.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV-Associated Cancer Rates by State, 2011-2015. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/statistics/state/index.htm
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.