Connecticut routinely ranks among the states with the lowest prevalence of several common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis. But while the state’s picture of sexual health is largely positive when considering where things stand now, it’s much less positive when stepping back and examining recent trends. That’s because Connecticut’s rates of most STDs are moving in the wrong direction, which is a trend that’s also being seen nationally, as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported four straight years of increases in the overall national rate of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
So which STDs are most common here in Connecticut, how has their prevalence changed in our state over time, and which locales across Connecticut are hotbeds of sexually transmitted diseases and infections? To explore this issue further and answer those questions, we’ll consider data from the CDC as well as the Connecticut State Department of Public Health.
Chlamydia Rates in Connecticut
Connecticut ranks near the middle of the nation when it comes to the population-adjusted rate of chlamydia infections, though the state’s rate is only about 5% lower than the overall U.S. rate.
Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people, bottom 25
The rate of chlamydia cases in Connecticut has gone up every year since 2013 and has more than doubled from the 20th-century low recorded in 2000.
Connecticut chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Only one Northeastern state, New York, ranks among the 10 states with the highest chlamydia rates, but Connecticut’s rate is high enough for third in the region.
Chlamydia infection rate, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Gonorrhea Rates in Connecticut
Connecticut ranks 38th overall for its population-adjusted rate of gonorrhea infections, and the state’s rate is about 36% lower than the nation’s rate overall.
Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people, bottom 25
Connecticut’s gonorrhea rate has increased every year since 2014, and it’s gone up by nearly two-thirds over the past 10 years.
Connecticut gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
No Northeastern state ranks among the top 10, and the highest-ranking Northeastern state, New York, comes in 20th of the 50 states. Connecticut has the third-highest gonorrhea rate in the Northeastern region.
Gonorrhea infection rate, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Syphilis Rates in Connecticut
Connecticut’s rate of primary and secondary syphilis infections, the two earliest syphilis stages, is the fifth-lowest of the 50 states, and the state’s rate is less than one-third of the overall U.S. rate.
Primary and secondary syphilis infections per 100,000 people
Rates of primary and secondary syphilis have climbed steadily in Connecticut in recent years, but are still far below the high levels seen in the early 1990s.
Connecticut primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Connecticut has the second-lowest syphilis rate in the Northeastern region.
Primary and secondary syphilis infection rates, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
HIV & Other STD Rates in Connecticut
More than 260 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Connecticut in 2017, and the state ranks in the bottom half of the nation for HIV prevalence. However, the state did see an increase in the HIV rate between 2016 and 2017, though the increase was a modest one at just 1%. See Best Ways to Test for HIV
Hepatitis B & C
Acute infections of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C occur in Connecticut at lower rates than the two viral infections occur nationally, and Connecticut has seen rates of both decline in recent years. Connecticut’s rate of acute hep B is only about 20% of the national rate, and the viral infection has become about half as common in our state over the past few years. The state’s acute hep C rate is roughly half the national rate, and it’s fallen by more than 44% since 2012. See Best Ways to Test for Hepatitis C
Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common STD in the world, and nearly all sexually active people will contract it at some point. It’s so common, in fact, that pinpointing precise frequency in the population is virtually impossible. But we can begin to understand the prevalence of HPV in Connecticut by examining the rate of HPV-related cancers. While HPV is usually harmless, a few strains of the virus can lead to serious health consequences, including several types of cancer, such as cervical, penile and anal cancer. These types of cancers occur in Connecticut at rate of 11.6 per 100,000, just under the national median of 11.7 per 100,000, meaning that Connecticut is quite representative of the nation as a whole when it comes to HPV-related cancer. See Best Ways to Test for HPV
STDs in Connecticut Cities & Counties
As a state, Connecticut generally has among the nation’s lowest rates of several common STDs. But looking at city- and county-level infection rates reveals a more complex picture.
About 1 in 3 chlamydia cases occur in the cities of Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.
Connecticut counties by chlamydia infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven account for about 2 in 5 gonorrhea cases in Connecticut.
Connecticut counties by gonorrhea infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
Primary and secondary syphilis
Hartford and New Haven accounted for nearly two-thirds of all infections of primary and secondary syphilis in the state.
Connecticut counties by primary and secondary syphilis infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
Connecticut may at first appear to be the picture of sexual health, given that the prevalence of most sexually transmitted diseases and infections is low in our state. But a closer look at the figures reveals troubling trends that indicate STDs are becoming a more serious problem here in Connecticut, one that should concern everyone. The state has made progress in some areas, which should give everyone hope and confidence that even more progress can be made. The truth is that most people who are infected with STDs are not aware of their status, which is why anybody who is sexually active should get themselves tested for the infections they’re most at risk of contracting.
- Connecticut State Department of Public Health, STD Statistics in Connecticut. (Undated). Retrieved from https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Infectious-Diseases/STD/STD-Statistics-in-Connecticut
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV Surveillance Report, Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/library/reports/surveillance/cdc-hiv-surveillance-report-2017-vol-29.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/SRtables.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV-Associated Cancer Rates by State, 2011-2015. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/statistics/state/index.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Surveillance for Viral Hepatitis – United States, 2016. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/2016surveillance/index.htm
Note: Some states have published more recent data for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis. For states in which that’s the case, we have substituted the individual state data for 2018 and used that in our rankings, while other states’ rankings are based on 2017 numbers. In some cases, we assume that when the full national dataset is published by the CDC, states’ positions relative to other states will change some, though those changes are unlikely to be dramatic, since the CDC data comes from the states.