Most people are aware that STDs are common, but many people aren’t sure just how common they are. How many people in the US have an STD? What state has the highest rate of STDs in America?
What’s the most common STD in the United States?
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that, on any given day, about 20% of the adult population of the US has at least one STD.
The most recent statistics from the CDC indicate that HPV is by far the most common STD. This virus can cause cancer and genital warts.
STD rankings by state
Where are the most STDs by state? The answer depends to some extent on the specific STD that we’re looking at. For example, here’s a map of syphilis cases in the US. Darker blue indicates higher rates of infection; moving through lighter shades of blue to green and yellow indicates decreasing numbers.
At the bottom of the map, in order, you can see Alaska, Hawaii, the District of Columbia (Washington DC), Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands. (There are no data for the Virgin Islands, which is why it’s gray. Zero cases were reported for American Samoa, which is why it’s white.)
According to the CDC, the five states with the highest rates of syphilis infection were:
- Washington DC
- New Mexico
Chlamydia rates by state
When looking at the STD percentage by state, we might also want to consider other common STDs. Here’s the CDC’s data on chlamydia rates by state:
According to this data, the five areas with the highest chlamydia rates were:
- Washington DC
If you compare this map to the one for syphilis, there are some broad similarities; the areas with the highest STD rates are generally in the south, particularly the southeast.
Herpes cases by state
Although the CDC does track statistics for infection with herpes, they haven’t published a detailed map on where these infections are located. Herpes may be considered a less serious public health threat than chlamydia or syphilis, as it’s much less likely to cause death, permanent disability, or infertility. Fortunately, CDC data do show that the rates of herpes infection in the US have decreased over the past two decades.
STD rate by city
People may also wonder about the cities where STDs are the most common. According to CDC data, the five cities with the highest chlamydia rates are:
- Los Angeles
- New York
Most people who are wondering about STD rates in various states and cities are wondering whether they should worry about catching an STD in their area. The truth is that people in any part of the country could have an STD. It’s always important to practice safe sex, in order to minimize the chances that you’ll develop an STD.
There are many people who have an STD and don’t even know it. STDs can cause no symptoms in many people who are infected, so the only way to know for sure whether you have an STD is to get tested. Some STDs can cause long-term health effects, including infertility as well as disability and even death, but treatment can help to prevent these negative outcomes. You can get an STD test in a clinic or at home, in order to make sure that you’re taking care of your long-term health.
AtlasPlus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/nchhstpatlas/maps.html. Accessed 3 May 2022.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases – Diseases and Related Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/general/default.htm. Accessed 3 May 2022.
Prevalence of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2 in Persons Aged 14–49: United States, 2015–2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db304.htm. Accessed 3 May 2022.
Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2019, Table 9: Chlamydia — Reported Cases and Rates of Reported Cases in Counties and Independent Cities* Ranked by Number of Reported Cases, United States, 2019. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2019/tables/9.htm. Accessed 3 May 2022.