Which States Have the Most STDs? (2023)
Whether you’re just starting a relationship with a new partner or haven’t been tested recently for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), it’s always important to be vigilant about your sexual health.
STD rates continue to increase year-over-year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, even the pandemic didn’t prevent STD rates from increasing across the country. According to the CDC, both gonorrhea and syphilis cases increased during the first year of the pandemic by 10% and 7%, respectively.
But if you have an active sex life, there are several ways to keep you and your partner safe. Along with testing, understanding your risk environment can also play a role in your sexual health. And while no state is immune to STDs, some areas are more prone to higher rates of STDs than others.
We recently broke down the data to analyze which states have the most STDs as well as the states that have been experiencing the largest increase in STDs since 2015.
Our analysis took a look at the most recent data available via the CDC’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance and included cases for gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV as well as primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis.
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Data reveals STD rates by State
No state in the nation has more STDs per 100,000 residents than Mississippi. Overall, the CDC data estimates that the state has 48,548 total cases, which is 1,958 per 100,000. STDs within the analysis include gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV as well as primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis.
Not only is Mississippi home to the most STD cases in the country, but cases continue to climb every year. The state has seen an average annual increase of 8.32% in STDs since 2015, according to the CDC. On average, Mississippi records 41,488 STD cases every year.
Mississippi’s neighbor to the west, Louisiana, comes in at No. 2 for states with the most STDs. According to CDC data, Louisiana has 1,846 STDs per 100,000, which is about 71,286 total cases. Like Mississippi, STDs continue to rise in Louisiana, but at a lower rate. Overall, the state records an average of 68,269 cases annually and Louisiana has seen an average annual increase of 2.41% in STDs since 2015.
We remain in the South to find the third state in our analysis, which is Georgia. Overall, Georgia has 1,657 STDs per 100,000 (147,340 total cases). The state has also seen a 3.16% average annual increase in STDs since 2015 and records an average of 141,805 STD cases annually.
#4 New York
New York is the only state within the top five on our list that is not located in the South. The state has 1,639 STDs per 100,000 residents, which is about 270,607 total cases, according to the CDC. It’s also seen an average annual increase of 1.14% and records an average of 276,429 STD cases per year.
#5 South Carolina
Rounding out the top five on our list of states with the most STDs is South Carolina. The Palmetto State has 1,599 STDs per 100,000 residents, which is about 70,044 total cases, according to the CDC. South Carolina also ranks fifth for states with the highest average annual increase in STD cases. Overall, the state records an average of 62,198 cases per year and cases have been increasing 6.14% on average every year since 2015.
Where have STDs increased the most?
Along with analyzing STD cases by state, we also looked at historical data to determine which states have seen the largest increase in cases each year since 2015.
STD rates continue to climb nationwide. Preliminary data for 2021 shows a 4.4% increase nationwide in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases (2,391,609 in 2020 versus 2,496,235 in 2021), according to the CDC.
When analyzing data to determine which states have seen the largest annual increases in STDs since 2015, Iowa ranks No. 1 followed by Mississippi at No. 2 and Kansas at No. 3.
How to prevent STDS
Even though there isn’t a risk-free state when it comes to STDs, there are several steps you can take in order to prevent STDs, including testing, which the CDC recommends being done once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Also, all adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
Those who are pregnant should be tested early in pregnancy for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Those with multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently (e.g., every 3 to 6 months), according to the CDC.
Overall, abstinence is the most effective way to prevent STDs, but reducing your number of sexual partners, mutual monogamy and using a condom are also ways that can help reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
To determine our ranking, we analyzed data for sexually transmitted diseases within all 50 states for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, which is the most recent data available via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STD cases within the analysis include HIV prevalence, HIV diagnoses, primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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