People living below the Mason-Dixon line have the highest risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease
State statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the top two states where residents face the highest rate of STDs are Mississippi and Louisiana.
In the state there is one sexually transmitted disease for every 79 people, the highest incidence in the country. Mississippi is also one of five states on the CDC’s list where STD rates exceed 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.
In 2021, according to the most recent data available, 1,266 people per 100,000 had an STD.
Louisiana follows, with a rate of 1,160 STD cases per 100,000 people.
The rankings made a regional shift to number three, with Alaska reporting 1,091 cases.
But it returned south to rank fourth, with South Carolina recording 1,052 STD cases per 100,000 people.
Of the top 10 states, seven are in the Southeast.
In 2021, Mississippi topped the list with a total of 1,266 STDs per 100,000 people. Gonorrhea rates were the highest in the country at 427.7 infections per 100,000
Alaska, a largely rural state where access to health care can be limited, had the highest rate of chlamydia. It has a relatively young population that is generally more likely to suffer from STDs.
The Covid pandemic left millions of people isolated and unable to undergo preventive examinations to detect sexually transmitted diseases. Infections decreased at the beginning of the pandemic, but recovered in the summer
The data reinforces what public health experts have been emphasizing in recent years: The United States is in the midst of an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases.
Federal disease surveillance data shows that every U.S. state between 2017 and 2021 has seen an increase in cases of syphilis, a disease that can cause organ damage, and gonorrhea, which can cause infertility.
In 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, a total of 2.5 million STDs were reported in the US.
The STD epidemic has led to a combined rate of 763 cases per 100,000 people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, a six percent increase over the 2020 rate of about 722.
STD surveillance was disrupted in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic when stay-at-home orders were imposed on much of the US population. But rates of new diseases did not decline overall in 2020.
The impact of disease tracking was most acute in March and April 2020, the only time rates fell that year.
While gonorrhea and syphilis case counts fell below 2019 levels during that two-month period, cases of both STDs rose during the rest of the year.
Tracking by the CDC showed that cases of gonorrhea increased by 15 percent and reported cases of early and later-stage syphilis increased by 38 percent from 2019 to 2021.
In 2021, Mississippi too topped the list has the highest rates of gonorrhea in the country, with 427.7 infections per 100,000 people.
Cases of chlamydia, a bacterial infection, were also high: 750 per 100,000. And the cumulative number of syphilis rates that year reached 88.3 per 100,000.
Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States, followed by gonorrhea.
After Mississippi, the state with the second highest rate of STDs was Louisiana. He The chlamydia rate in that state was 730.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, while the gonorrhea rate was 354.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Alaska had the third highest rate of STDs overall, but according to the state Department of Health and Human Services, rates of gonorrhea and syphilis have been rising there for years.
And in 2021, state health officials counted 447 cases of syphilis, a 24 percent increase on the total of 2020.
Possible contributors include a relatively young population – accounting for more than 50 percent of all STD cases in the U.S. Much of Alaska is also remote, limiting the availability of health care, and public health infrastructure is very poor.
After Alaska came South Carolina, which recorded 1,052 STDs per capita in 2021. It recorded the fourth highest rate of chlamydia with 703 cases per capita.
The state had the lowest syphilis rates on the list at 40.1 cases per capita.
In South Dakota, which rounds out the top five states, there is limited access to health care on rural and tribal lands. There, syphilis has skyrocketed by more than 1,800 percent, from 41 cases in 2016 to 785 in 2021.
The rest of the top 10 states on the list, with the exception of New Mexico in ninth place, were located in the Southeast and included Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Alabama, in sixth place, recorded a total of 989.6 STDs per 100,000 people, followed by Georgia with 987.5 per 100,000 and Arkansas with 942.4 per 100,000.
Alabama, however, had the nation’s highest rate of syphilis infections of any state on the list with 321.3 infections per 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, Georgia reported 62.1 syphilis cases per capita, while Arkansas had a rate of 79.4 per 100,000.
There are two types of syphilis infections: preventable syphilis infection is one that an adult contracts during sexual contact, and a congenital infection is when a mother passes the disease to her baby during pregnancy.
It increases the baby’s risk of bone damage, anemia, jaundice, nerve damage, and meningitis. It can be treated with antibiotics, but it kills about 40 percent of babies born with it.
One possible explanation for the increase in syphilis cases is the fact that many people with the disease are asymptomatic or have no symptoms. The lack of symptoms leads them to transmit the disease without knowing it.
About half of syphilis and chlamydia patients are asymptomatic, estimates suggest, while up to 90 percent of people with gonorrhea have no symptoms.
Rounding out the ranking in tenth place was North Carolina, with 922.2 STDs per 100,000 people. The rate of chlamydia infections was 603.3 cases per capita and the rates of gonorrhea were 271.2 cases per capita.
North Carolina had the second lowest syphilis rate with 47.7 infections per 100,000.
Overall, syphilis infection rates have increased 70 percent in the US since 2017
For gonorrhea, rates have increased by 25 percent
Chlamydia infections have decreased by five percent since 2017
Most STDs in the US occur in young people between the ages of 15 and 24. This may be due to apprehension about talking about your sex life with your parents or doctors and a lack of informative sex education in the US.
Only 38 states and DC require sex education in schools, leaving approximately 11 million American public school students without it.
Twenty-nine states require that sex education programs prioritize education about abstinence before marriage as a means to avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies. This course teaches children, often in a religious context, to wait to have sex until they have entered a committed monogamous relationship.
However, teens who have made abstinence pledges are at higher risk of being exposed to human papillomavirus and are also less likely to use safe sexual methods, such as condoms, when they decide to be sexually active, according to a 2016 report published in Marriage and family magazine.
The authors of that report said: “Those who pledge abstinence are more likely to receive cultural messages that downplay the effectiveness of condoms and contraceptives, as well as to be exposed to framing premarital sexual activity as a form of failure.”