STD Statistics and Reports


The most serious conversations are often the most uncomfortable to have and yet, they are almost always worth having. Talking about dying does not make you dead and talking about sex does not make you pregnant. Likewise, talking about STDs does not give you one and it is most certainly a conversation worth having. So let’s take a closer look at the role sexually transmitted diseases plays in the United States of America.

Types of STD’s

Whereas STDs come in many forms, for the purposes of this report we will focus on the big three. That is Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. Chlamydia is a very small parasitic bacterium which needs a host to survive. Gonorrhea is a venereal disease involving inflammatory discharge from the urethra or vagina. Meanwhile, syphilis is a chronic bacterial disease that is contracted chiefly during sexual intercourse but can also be contracted congenitally by infection of a developing fetus.

Number of Reported Chlamydia Cases in U.S. from 1985 to 2018

At first glance, one can instantly deduce that America’s problem with chlamydia is a growing one. Whereas this graph reports the reported cases, the overall number is assumed to be higher as many do not report STDs as a matter of shame. However, armed with the facts, this is a problem that the nation can tackle. The increase from 1985 to 2018 has been exponential in both the rate and the total number of cases. One might assume that the total number would grow as the population grew from 1985 to 2018. However, the drastic increase in the rate demonstrates that the problem is increasing in both intensity and frequency.

Rate per 100,000 Residents of New Chlamydia Cases in 2018 per State

There does not appear to be a geographic trend with regards to the rates of new chlamydia cases reported. Most states fall between 400 to 600 cases per 100,000 residents with little geographic correlation as to why. The State of West Virginia holds the lowest rate with 198.2 new cases per 100,000 residents. Meanwhile, Alaska takes the top spot with 832.5 new cases per 100,000 residents. What this map does tell us is that chlamydia is a nationwide problem that is consistently on the rise.

Chlamydia Cases in 2018 by Rate per 100,000 and by Gender

In this table, one can examine the number reported chlamydia cases per state and by gender. In every state, women outpace the me in reporting this particular STD. In most cases, they outpace the men at an average rate of nearly 2 to 1 or more. One can hypothesis as to the cultural reasons as to why this is the case, but the data is conclusive that women struggle with chlamydia at a much higher rate than men.

Rate per 100,000 Residents of Reported Chlamydia by Gender and by Age Range

As one might expect, the rate of chlamydia sees an explosion in cases as young adults reach their teenage years and this trend continues to grow into the early 20’s. This is due in large part to a lack of education as well poor decision making by young adults engaging in sexual activity. The rate drops consistently after the age of 25 and is minimal by the time one reaches the age of 65 and older. Once again, this graph demonstrates that women suffer most by a margin over 2 to 1 in these early years. The gender disparity begins to level out as people age.

Rate of Chlamydia in the U.S. By Ethnicity and Gender

When examining the rates of chlamydia by ethnicity, the trend that women tend to outpace by the men by a near 2 to 1 margin is true across race and ethnicity. African-Americans witness the highest rates in the United States and it is also worth noting that the variance between gender is smaller among this group. Meanwhile, Asian-Americans see the lowest rate per 100,000 people.

Gonorrhea Rates

Number of Reported Gonorrhea Cases in the U.S. from 1950 to 2018.

Reported cases of gonorrhea in the United States tells as slightly different story than chlamydia, though the problem is still growing. From 1970 to 1980, the number of cases of reported gonorrhea skyrocketed to an all-time high of 442.1 rates per 100,000 residents. The problem began to drop in the 1990’s and hovered throughout the 2000’s. However, it is concerning that from 2013 to 2018, the number of cases began to grow rapidly and is quickly reaching 1990 levels again.

Number of Reported Gonorrhea Cases by State

When it comes to gonorrhea, this map shows some geographic trends that are more easy to discern than with chlamydia. Most notably that in the Northeast corner of the United States, residents witness some of the lowest rates of gonorrhea in the nation. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine see between 43 and 53 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 residents. Meanwhile, Lousianna, Mississippi, and Alabama witness between 257 and 326 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 residents.

Number of Reported Cases of Gonorrhea by State and by Gender

A far cry different than chlamydia, men and women appear to struggle with gonorrhea at a more consistent rate with one another. In most cases, it is men this time that outpaces the women, though not by much. There are outliers such as New York state where men ou tpace the women by nearly 3 to 1 when it comes to reported cases of gonorrhea. However, on the whole there is more equity between men and women in each state.

Cases of Gonorrhea in the U.S. by Age Group and Gender

Continuing the trend seen with other STDs, cases of gonorrhea skyrocket at the onset of teenage life and peak in one’s early 20’s. This correlates with the age ranges that people report having the most sexual partners as well as those who report taking the risk of having unprotected sex. The number again declines to a minimal amount by age 65, though older adults do continue to report cases of gonorrhea. As noted above, it is men who out pace the ladies when it comes to this particular STD.

Rate of Gonorrhea in the U.S. by Ethnicity and by Gender in 2018

As is the case with chlamydia, African-Americans suffer the highest rates of gonorrhea while Asian-Americans witness the lowest rates. However, in this case it is the men who outnumber the women with reported cases. That is with the exception of American Indians and Alaska Natives. In this ethnicity, it is the women who nearly double the rate of men when it comes to gonorrhea.

Syphilis-Affected States

Number of Reported Cases of All Stages of Syphilis from 1984 to 2018

The trend of reported cases of syphilis charts its own path compared to other STDs, though there are some similarities. Whereas gonorrhea saw a peak in 1980, syphilis peaked in 1990 with 54.3 reported cases per 100,000 residents. Like gonorrhea, the number of reported cases began to decline into the 2000’s and is now seeing a resurgence with 2018 cases approach 1990 peak levels. That both gonorrhea and syphilis have been on a sharp increase in the past decade represents a disturbing trend in the United States.

All Stages of Syphilis Reported Cases and Rates by State

Once again, syphilis charts its own path throughout the United States and does demonstrate some geographical tendencies. Apart from outliers like New York state, the northern half of the United States tends to see less cases of syphilis than the deep south or the west coast. Here, it is California and Nevada taking the lead among the nation with rates of 63.9 and 66.7 per 100,000 residents respectively. Breaking apart from its trends with gonorrhea and chlamydia, Alaska actually has one of the lower rates of this STD in the nation.

Primary and Secondary Reported Cases of Syphilis from 1984 to 2018

Syphilis is a deadly STD that develops in stages with severity increasing in the later stages. When examining the number of primary and secondary cases reported, the trends by stage match the trends of the disease as a whole. The nation saw a peak in these cases of syphilis in 1990 with the numbers dropping in the 2000’s. Meanwhile, the numbers have continued to rise over the past decade.

Primary and Secondary Reported Cases of Syphilis by State

When looking only at primary and secondary syphilis, the regional data becomes somewhat ambiguous. One cannot see the broader trend that the deep south suffers more than other parts of the country. Although, Nevada and California continue to lead the way. One can deduce that there is some regional drivers in those two states which consistently drive up the numbers.

Primary and Secondary Reported Cases of Syphilis by State and by Gender

When examining the rates of primary and secondary syphilis by gender, a startling statistic jumps out. Men drastically out pace the women when it comes to syphilis. In many cases they do by a margin of 10 to 1 or higher. On a national average, men out pace the women at a rate of 6 to 1 with nearly 30,000 cases reported by men and nearly 5,000 cases reported by women.


Congenital Syphilis Reported Cases from 1984 to 2018

Congenital syphilis is a chronic infectious disease that is acquired by the fetus in the uterus before birth. Though the babies are innocent bystanders in this process, the numbers follow the broader trends with syphilis. Like all other cases, the nation saw a spike in the early 90’s and is now seeing a resurgence in the past decade. Though, thanks to advances in medicine and treatment, the incline over the past decade is not as sharp.

Congenital Syphilis Cases Reported by State in 2018

Here, cases of congenital syphilis follow some national trends with syphilis and break from some as well. California continues to suffer heavily from syphilis and this is true of congenital syphilis as well. However, we see a spike not previously seen in Texas and Florida. It is actually Texas that leads the nation in reported cases of congenital syphilis with a rate of 92.2 cases per 100,000 Texas residents.

Early Non-Primary Non-Secondary Syphilis by State

With this map, we can see that California, Nevada and Florida continue to suffer high rates of this type of syphilis. However, this map is unique in that it shows a massive spike in the states of Mississippi and New York. Here, Mississippi leads the nation with 31.4 cases per 100,000 residents followed by New York with 20.6 cases per 100,000 residents.

Unknown Duration or Late Syphilis Case Rate by State

Finally, we see the number of cases of syphilis that have an unknown duration or are determined to be in the late stages. Nevada, California, Texas and Lousianna are among the leading states in the nation for this type and stage of syphilis. Noteworthy, it is actually Lousianna who takes the lead with 31.1 cases per 100,000 residents.

In Conclusion

STDs can be an uncomfortable topic for many, but it is a conversation that needs to take place. The nation is witnessing a resurgence in all types of STDs over the past decade and without intervention, the nation will surpass the rates witnessed in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Understanding the data will help the nation face this looming health crisis head on.



All the data was pulled from the most recent STD Surveillance Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.

Last updated: December 20, 2019

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