Which States Have the Most STDs?

Sexual Health
According to the CDC, sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise all across the U.S. But which states are being hit the hardest? Getty Images

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise all across the U.S.: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s most recent Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance Report, chlamydia rates rose 4.7 percent between 2015 and 2016, with gonorrhea rising 18.5 percent and syphilis jumping 17.6 percent in the same period.

The CDC estimates those rates will continue to rise unless federal and local governments put funding towards prevention and testing.  "Many of the country's systems for preventing STDs have eroded,” the CDC’s Dr. Jonathan Mermin told NBC News. “We must mobilize, rebuild and expand services – or the human and economic burden will continue to grow."

The populations hardest hit are men who have sex with men (MSM), young people and people of color.

  • MSM represented 80.6 percent of all men infected with syphilis in 2016. (Between 2010 and 2016, gonorrhea among MSM increased 151 percent.)
  • Young women made up more than half of all new chlamydia infections in 2016. That same year, there was a 28 percent increase in babies born with syphilis.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, gonorrhea rates increased 120 percent among people of color. 

In some areas, STDs rates are rising among seniors, as well: Between 2010 and 2014, chlamydia infections in South Dakota increased for those over 65 by 52 percent, syphilis increased by 65 percent for the same group and gonorrhea by 90 percent. 

The STD Surveillance Report only measured chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea in each state. (Although HIV still affects many Americans, the diagnosis rates aren’t much lower, so HIV wasn’t included.) While these infections are all treatable, they can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Syphilis, for example. can lead to brain and nerve damage, paralysis, dementia and even death.

Slide through to learn more about the states hardest hit by STDs. And If you’re sexually active, learn more about prevention, testing and treatment at the CDC website.

1 Indiana
25. Indiana: 620.6 per 100,000 people. Getty Images
2 Indiana
Chlamydia: 466
Syphilis: 11.8
Gonorrhea: 142.8

The CDC reported a 70 percent increase in syphilis infections in Indiana between 2015 and 2016.
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3 Virginia
24. Virginia: 620.9 per 100,000 people. Getty Images
4 Virginia
Chlamydia: 473.2
Syphilis: 15.5
Gonorrhea: 132.2

Virginia’s numbers are impacted by the state’s proximity to Washington, D.C., where STD infections are some of the highest in the nation. Outside the DC area, Richmond ranks among the nation’s Top 10 cities for STDs, with 1544.39 per 100,000 in 2013.
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5 South Dakota
23. South Dakota: 658.9 per 100,000 people. Getty Images
6 South Dakota
Chlamydia: 504.5
Syphilis: 6.6
Gonorrhea: 147.8

Between 2010 and 2014, chlamydia infections in people 65 and older increased by 52 percent, while syphilis diagnoses increased 65 percent and gonorrhea by a whopping 90 percent.
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7 Tennessee
22. Tennessee: 665.5 per 100,000 people. Getty Images
8 Tennessee
Chlamydia: 489.4
Syphilis: 21.9
Gonorrhea: 154.2

Memphis has the highest STD rate in the state, with more than 11,000 infections or more than one person out of every 100.
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9 Arizona
21. Arizona: 690.7 per 100,000 people. Getty Images
10 Arizona
Chlamydia: 511.5
Syphilis: 27.9
Gonorrhea: 151.3

STD infection rates in Phoenix increased more than 10 percent from 2016 and 2017, according to the Arizona Department of Health, which reported 35,859 infections last year, up from 31,721 cases the year prior.
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11 Florida
20. Florida: 690.8 per 100,000 people. Getty Images