In the state of Florida and much of the rest of the U.S., the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), often referred to as sexually transmitted infections, is on the rise. According to the CDC’s most recent reporting, rate of three of the most common infections (chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) rose in 2017, marking the fourth straight year of increases for all three STDs. Florida’s health data largely mirrors these increases.

Which STDs are most prevalent in the state of Florida, which areas of the state have the highest concentrations of infections and how has the picture of sexual health changed in our state over time? Let’s take a close look at data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health.

Chlamydia Rates in Florida

Chlamydia infections in Florida in 2017 topped 100,000, putting the state fourth in terms of overall number of cases. But when adjusted for population, Florida falls out of the top 25, and the state has a rate lower than the national infection rate.

Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people

Highest
Alaska 799.8
Louisiana 742.4
Mississippi 707.6
New Mexico 651.6
South Carolina 649.8
Georgia 631.4
North Carolina 619.7
Alabama 615.5
New York 591.6
Illinois 589.9
Total 528.8
Lowest
Florida 485.2
Massachusetts 430.4
Minnesota 426.4
New Jersey 394
Idaho 368.4
Wyoming 365.8
Maine 342.1
Utah 332.2
New Hampshire 330.5
Vermont 297.5
West Virginia 226.1

Florida’s chlamydia infection rate has gone up every year since 2005 and has risen nearly 200% since 1996.

Florida chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)

1996 168.7
1997 178.4
1998 163
1999 200.3
2000 207.7
2001 229.6
2002 251.6
2003 248.2
2004 243.5
2005 242.6
2006 274.2
2007 312.5
2008 379.4
2009 389.7
2010 397.2
2011 401.5
2012 407.3
2013 418.3
2014 424.6
2015 455.5
2016 468.2
2017 485.2

Florida has one of the lowest population-adjusted chlamydia rates of any Southern state, ranking below both of its direct neighbors.

Chlamydia infection rate, Southern states (cases per 100,000 people)

Louisiana 742.4
Mississippi 707.6
South Carolina 649.8
Georgia 631.4
North Carolina 619.7
Alabama 615.5
Arkansas 579.6
Delaware 566.3
Maryland 555.4
Oklahoma 554.4
Texas 543.9
Tennessee 527.5
Virginia 503.7
Florida 485.2
Kentucky 435.4
West Virginia 226.1

 Gonorrhea Rates in Florida

Florida had the fourth-most gonorrhea infections overall in 2017, but the state ranks in the bottom half when accounting for population size with a rate several points below the national rate.

Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people

Highest
Mississippi 309.8
Alaska 295.1
Louisiana 256.7
South Carolina 254.4
Alabama 245.7
Oklahoma 231.4
North Carolina 225.4
Arkansas 224.5
Georgia 219.8
New Mexico 215.7
Total 171.9
Lowest
Florida 153.7
Rhode Island 102.9
Hawaii 95.1
Utah 83.3
Montana 75
West Virginia 70.8
Wyoming 70.4
Idaho 58.6
Maine 46.6
New Hampshire 38.4
Vermont 32.5

All states have seen their gonorrhea rates rise since 2013, and Florida’s rate currently stands at the highest level at any time over the past 20 years. Since a 21st-century low in 2012, the rate has gone up by about 50%.

Florida gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)

1996 130.5
1997 127.1
1998 124.6
1999 145.4
2000 141.7
2001 131.4
2002 127.7
2003 111.1
2004 106.3
2005 113.1
2006 134.6
2007 126.5
2008 124.7
2009 111.6
2010 107.2
2011 104
2012 102.3
2013 108.8
2014 105.2
2015 121.6
2016 139.2
2017 154.1

Florida has one of the lowest gonorrhea rates in the South, ranking far behind both of its neighboring states.

Gonorrhea infection rate, Southern states (cases per 100,000 people)

Mississippi 309.8
Louisiana 256.7
South Carolina 254.4
Alabama 245.7
Oklahoma 231.4
North Carolina 225.4
Arkansas 224.5
Georgia 219.8
Delaware 187.4
Tennessee 186.8
Maryland 182.5
Texas 170.2
Kentucky 167.2
Florida 153.7
Virginia 149.7
West Virginia 70.8

Syphilis Rates in Florida

More than 2,300 cases of primary and secondary syphilis were reported in Florida in 2017, putting the state in second place overall, behind California’s 6,700 cases. Even when adjusting for population, Florida’s syphilis rate is among the top 10 and is higher than the national rate.

Syphilis infections per 100,000 people (top 20)*

Highest
Nevada 20
California 17.1
Louisiana 14.5
Georgia 14.4
Arizona 13.6
New York 11.9
Florida 11.6
North Carolina 11.2
Mississippi 10.4
Illinois 9.6
Total 9.5
Lowest
South Dakota 3.8
West Virginia 3.4
Iowa 3.2
New Hampshire 3.2
Connecticut 3.1
Wisconsin 3
Nebraska 2.3
Vermont 2.1
Alaska 1.8
Wyoming 0.7

* Primary and secondary syphilis

Florida recorded a slight drop in the syphilis rate between 2016 and 2017, but the rate has gone up by more than 500% since 1998.

Florida primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)

1996 2.5
1997 2
1998 1.9
1999 2.2
2000 2.6
2001 3
2002 3.7
2003 3.9
2004 4.2
2005 4
2006 4
2007 4.9
2008 5.6
2009 5.6
2010 6.3
2011 6.6
2012 7.2
2013 7.9
2014 8.8
2015 10.5
2016 11.9
2017 11.6

Florida has the third-highest rate of primary and secondary syphilis in the region and ranks just behind bordering state Georgia.

Syphilis infection rates, Southern states (cases per 100,000 people)

Louisiana 14.5
Georgia 14.4
Florida 11.6
North Carolina 11.2
Mississippi 10.4
Maryland 9.5
Oklahoma 9.5
Alabama 8.7
Texas 8
Arkansas 7.8
Tennessee 7.3
South Carolina 7.3
Virginia 6.4
Delaware 6
Kentucky 5.9
West Virginia 3.4

HIV & Other STD Rates in Florida

HIV

Nearly 5,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in our state in 2017, a slight increase from 2016, putting the state at the very top of the list in terms of overall cases. Even when adjusted for population, Florida has one of the highest rates of HIV infections in the country (22.9 per 100,000), coming in second behind Georgia (24.9 per 100,000). The state’s infection rate stayed level between 2016 and 2017. See also HIV test options.

Hepatitis B & C

Florida ranks fifth overall in the nation for acute hepatitis B infections with a rate nearly three times higher than the national rate (2.7 per 100,000 vs. 1 per 100,000). Acute hep C infections are a bit less common in our state, but Florida’s population-adjusted rate is still slightly higher than the national rate (1.1 per 100,000 vs. 1 per 100,000). Rates of both infections have risen by at least two-thirds since 2012. See also hepatitis test options.

HPV

Human papillomavirus is the most common STD, but the vast majority who have it aren’t aware, which encourages the disease to spread easily. Precise figures on the number of Floridians who catch HPV each year are unavailable, but we do know that Florida has one of the highest rates of HPV-related cancers of any state, and HPV is the major cause of cancers in several parts of the body, including the cervix, penis, anus and vulva. Florida’s rate of HPV-related cancer is fourth-highest in the country at 14.3 per 100,000. See also HPV test options.

STDs in Florida Cities & Counties

STD rates vary pretty widely across the state of Florida, which contains several large and medium metro areas, including Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami and Orlando.

Chlamydia

Miami accounted for 12% of all chlamydia cases in 2017, but Miami-Dade County’s chlamydia rate is not among the top 10 in the state.

Florida counties by chlamydia infection rates (cases per 100,000 people), top 10

Alachua 844.8
Gadsden 792.8
Duval 734.2
Orange 722.7
Escambia 679
Jackson 632.2
Hillsborough 599.5
Broward 598.7
Hamilton 589.9
Hendry 568.8

Gonorrhea

The Fort Lauderdale area accounted for more than 1 in 10 gonorrhea cases in Florida in 2017, and both Broward and Duval (home to Jacksonville) counties rank among the 10 with the highest gonorrhea rates in the state.

Florida counties by gonorrhea infection rates (cases per 100,000 people), top 10

Leon 353.2
Duval 343.4
Gadsden 310.1
Escambia 264.4
Alachua 238.3
Columbia 235.4
Orange 235.3
Broward 208.7
Jackson 196.8
Baker 181

Primary and secondary syphilis

About 1 in 5 syphilis cases in the state in 2017 were diagnosed in Miami, and the county had one of the highest concentrations of syphilis in Florida.

Florida counties by syphilis infection rates (cases per 100,000 people), top 10

Gadsden 26.7
Manatee 26.4
Hamilton 20.3
Union 18.9
Orange 18.4
Duval 17.9
Broward 17.5
Miami-Dade 17.4
Alachua 17
Pinellas 16.6

Conclusion

Sexually transmitted infections are incredibly common across the United States and right here in Florida. People who are concerned they could have an STD often put off getting tested out of embarrassment or fear of finding out they have a serious condition. There’s no doubt some STDs are very dangerous, but almost all of them can be treated and the ones that can’t be treated can often be prevented with medication. But it’s important to take the first step and find out your STD status by getting tested.

Additional References

Note: The CDC publishes comprehensive STD data on only three of the many conditions that are sexually transmitted — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis. Many other STDs are not classified as nationally notifiable diseases, meaning states are not legally obligated to report infection rates. Also, while the CDC collects data for the District of Columbia, the population density of the district prevents it from being included in rankings.