There's urgent concern from the Minnesota Department of Health over a rise in sexually transmitted diseases across the state.
A new report shows a 30 percent increase in new syphilis cases and a 25 percent increase in new gonorrhea cases in 2016 compared to the year before.
The report noted a trend in increased STD cases among people who use drugs, particularly heroin, prescription opiates and methamphetamine.
While the total number of HIV cases for 2016 remained about the same as in 2015, communities of color and injection drug users had more new HIV infections than other groups.
Rates of new hepatitis C infections also increased 38 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, and over half of the new cases reported injection drug use.
"This alarming rise in STDs and hepatitis C is of urgent concern," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "MDH and local public health departments, clinicians and our community partners are using every resource we have to maintain the health of Minnesotans and protect them from the health consequences that can be caused by untreated disease. If funding for the prevention of infectious disease in Minnesota continues to be reduced as we have seen in recent years, we will not be able to put an end to these rising infection rates."
STDs, HIV and Hepatitis C infections are highly preventable.
The Department of Health says effective prevention methods include consistent and correct condom use during sex, limiting the number of sexual partners and not sharing injection drug, tattoo and piercing equipment.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a daily prescription medication that can significantly reduce a person's risk for HIV infection when taken consistently and correctly.
Health officials recommend that sexually active people and people who inject drugs get tested at least once each year for STDs, HIV and hepatitis C.
Health care providers should also offer these tests to all patients at risk of infection.