Minnesota health officials call for push to end HIV/AIDS

MDH joins partners in observing World AIDS Day on Friday, Dec. 1

ST. PAUL — As World AIDS Day approaches, state health officials are calling for renewed passion and dedication in the fight to end HIV in Minnesota.

“We have the tools to end HIV in Minnesota,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “New interventions, such as early, sustained HIV treatment and pre-exposure preventive drugs, are highly effective at preventing HIV. We are committed to working with our communities that have disproportionate rates of HIV to reduce barriers to HIV prevention, testing and care.”

HIV medications, known as antiretroviral therapy, are so effective that HIV is now considered a chronic, manageable condition. When taken as prescribed, HIV medications can decrease the amount of HIV present in blood to a level that is too low to measure. A person living with HIV who gets and keeps undetectably low levels of HIV in their blood effectively has no risk of transmitting HIV to sexual partners. This concept is known as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is spotlighting the U=U campaign on social media for World AIDS Day. For more information, see HIV Treatment as Prevention.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a daily pill that can prevent HIV infection. PrEP is recommended for people who are vulnerable to HIV infection through sex without a condom or by sharing injection equipment. MDH provides funding for free and confidential PrEP navigation services. For more information, see Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

MDH recommends that everyone ages 13-64 should be tested for HIV at least once. If you do not know the HIV status of your sex partners or you share injection equipment, you should be tested for HIV at least yearly. To find a testing place near you see HIV Testing Sites in Minnesota.

The number of new HIV diagnoses in Minnesota has remained relatively stable with 290 cases reported in 2016, but disparities remain. Men who have sex with men continue to have higher rates of HIV, about half of all new HIV cases in 2016 were among communities of color, cases among 20-29 year olds remain high and HIV diagnoses among people who inject drugs has continued to increase over the last two years.

World AIDS Day activities will occur throughout December. Here is a sample listing of events in Minnesota:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 28, East Side Family Clinic, 895 East Seventh St., St. Paul, MN 55106 (8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.),
    Free HIV Testing
    Walk-in HIV testing. The first 25 people who request a HIV test will get a $10 gift card from Target.
  • Thursday, Nov. 30, Hamline Church United Methodist, 1514 Englewood Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104 (7:15-8:30 p.m.)
    World AIDS Day Remembrance and Awareness Vigil
    Candle Light Vigil from 7:15-7:30pm. Program featuring HIV+ individuals telling their stories. Representatives from The MN AIDS Project and Clare Housing talking about the purpose of World AIDS day and a profile of HIV in Minnesota.
  • Friday, Dec. 1, All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church, 3100 Park Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55407 (7:30-10 a.m.),
    Passion & Compassion: Strengthening Our Resolve to End HIV/AIDS World AIDS Day Breakfast 2017
    Join leaders, activists, organizations, and faith communities for the 1st Annual World AIDS Day Breakfast. Prayer service, ritual, fellowship and breakfast.
  • Friday, Dec. 1, La Clinica, 153 Cesar Chavez St., St. Paul, MN 55107 (8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.), Free HIV Testing
    Walk-in HIV testing. The first 25 people who request a HIV test will get a $10 gift card from Target.
  • Friday, Dec. 1, Northeast Target, 1650 New Brighton Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55413 (11 a.m.-8 p.m.)
    Wrap the World in Warmth
    Free holiday gift wrapping Dec. 1 and winter coat drive Dec. 1-8. Purchase a coat at Northeast Target to donate to a neighbor in need living at Clare Housing. Visit the Clare Housing table in Target on Dec. 1 for more information.
  • Friday, Dec. 1, Park Tavern, 3401 Louisiana Ave S., St Louis Park, MN 55426 (2-4 p.m.)
    World AIDS Day Bowling Party for The Aliveness Project
    Bowling party for The Aliveness Project members and their families and friends with free bowling for the first 80 people and light appetizers.
  • Friday, Dec. 1, Ordean Building, 424 West Superior St., Duluth, MN 55804 (5-7:30 p.m.)
    Twin Ports World AIDS Day Event
    Social hour and refreshments at 5 p.m. followed by report on prevention and treatment progress, personal stories, history of an activist and memorial vigil. Free and open to the public.
  • Friday, Dec. 1, Capri Theatre, 2021 West Broadway Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55411 (6-8 p.m.)
    Sarah Simmons Showcase
    Talent, tacos and testing! Live performances from local talent.