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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - State health officials say an annual report on sexually transmitted diseases shows a concerning increase in syphilis cases in Minnesota.

The report issued today by the Minnesota Department of Health shows the state experienced a 33-percent increase in syphilis cases last year. The total was 1457 cases, including 15 congenital syphilis cases involving infants.

“What we do know is that the rates of syphilis are troubling, especially the rise in congenital syphilis (CS), or when a pregnant person passes syphilis to an infant,” Christine Jones, STD, HIV, and TB section manager said. In 2021, cases of CS in Minnesota increased by 115%, up to 15 cases. “CS can cause low birth weight, harm, or death to an infant if not treated. It is preventable when it’s caught early,” Jones said. “We are encouraging people to get tested regularly for STDs, especially if they are pregnant.”

State health officials say untreated syphilis can cause blindness, dementia, or even death. The report indicates new syphilis infections continue to be centered within the Twin Cities area and among males. It also termed the increase in syphilis cases among women as "alarming," noting the risk of congenital syphilis.

The report showed cases of the most common sexually transmitted disease, chlamydia, increased by three percent in Minnesota last year. The total for 2021 was 22,578.

Gonorrhea cases in Minnesota declined 5 percent last year after a big increase in 2020. It is the second most common STD in the state with 9671 cases reported in 2021.

HIV infections were up 8 percent statewide there were just under 300 new cases reported in Minnesota last year and there are currently nearly 9700 people living with HIV/AIDS in the state.

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