The good news: overall rates of HIV infections declined sligtly in 2010. The bad news is that rates of HIV infection in youth are considerably higher than recent years. There were 331 new HIV cases in Minnesota in 2010. Eighty of the new cases of HIV were people under the age of 24 - 2 of which were perinatal transmission. Two babies born in Minnesota who will never know a life without HIV, without daily medication, without the lessoned but no less poignant social stigma.
I remember watching fundraising music events promoting the hope that, in our lifetime, no child would be born with HIV. Rates of maternal transmission have dropped. In developed countries, rates are around 3-10% while in underdeveloped countries transmission rates are between 30 and 43%. There is no way to know if these Minnesota cases were undergoing the highly effective therapies to prevent transmission or if they lacked medical care throughout their pregnancy. How do we stop this? We provide education, healthcare and support for women living with HIV. Essentially we fully fund the programs that are in place.
This has lead to an increase in STI/HIV infections in Minnesota and the United States. Failing to educate our youth feeds back into these patterns of increased incidence of STI/HIV infections and more unplanned pregnancies. Cutting funding for family planning centers will disproportionately hurt the poor and the youth of Minnesota leading to more tragic cases of youth's lives forever changed by a preventable infection.
-by Rachel Nygaard, Web Correspondent, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota South Dakota Action Fund