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
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
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)*
* 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)
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)
HIV & Other STD Rates in Florida
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/SRtables.pdf
- Florida Department of Health, FL Health Charts interactive tool. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.flhealthcharts.com/charts/default.aspx
- 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, 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: 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.