The Rate of HIV Infection in Minnesota

HIV prevalence among people of color is disproportionate in Minnesota. For example, in 2017, men of color represented 17% of Minnesota’s male population and over 60% of new HIV infections among males. Similarly, women of color represented only 13% of Minnesota’s female population and 80% of the new HIV infections among females. In 2018, Minnesota had 286 newly reported HIV infections. Male HIV infections accounted for 76% of all new infections, while 59% of all new infections occurred among communities of color. There were 275 new HIV cases in Minnesota in 2019. Males accounted for 72% of all new infections, and communities of color accounted for 61% of the new infections. It is worth noting that although race can be a proxy of other risk factors, such as lower education and social-economic factors, it is not a biological cause of the differences in HIV occurrence in Minnesota.

There is a rising concern for HIV infections among adolescents and young adults between 13 to 30 years in Minnesota, which is why the Youth and Aids Project in Minnesota targets this population. The number of newly reported HIV cases among males in this age bracket has been higher than that of their female counterparts since 1999. The number of newly reported HIV cases among female adolescents has been relatively consistent over the years. In recent years, most of the newly reported HIV cases among young adults and male adolescents in Minnesota have occurred among youth of color. Women of color also currently account for the highest proportion of new HIV infections among the female population in Minnesota. After redistributing those with unspecified risk, 86% of new HIV infections among males were attributed to male-to-male sex between 2015 and 2017. In the same period, 87% of the newly reported cases among females were attributed to heterosexual sex.

Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, male-to-male sex has been the primary mode of HIV exposure in Minnesota. Heterosexual sex with an HIV infected partner has been the primary mode of HIV exposure among females in Minnesota. The number of youths in Minnesota contracting the virus through injected drug use has also been on the rise in recent years.

Traditionally, race/ethnicity information about HIV/AIDS has grouped black African-born persons, and non-African born blacks together as “blacks”. The Minnesota Department of Health started analyzing these groups separately in 2001 and started observing a rising number of new HIV cases among black-African born individuals. Although African-born individuals represent less than 1% of Minnesota’s population, they accounted for over 20% of all new HIV infections in the state in 2017. Since the 1990s, Minnesota has witnessed a relative decrease in HIV infections resulting from prenatal transmissions. For example, the rate of prenatal HIV transmission was 15% between 1994 and 1996, but the number has since reduced to below 2% in Minnesota in recent years, with only one case being reported in 2018.