For many common sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, Kansas ranks among the states with the lowest prevalence rates. But the news isn’t all good for Kansas. That’s because while rates of most STDs are relatively low here in our state, many STDs have seen their rates climb in Kansas in recent years. The increasing prevalence of many common STDs is concerning, but Kansas is not alone. In fact, rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis have risen nationally for the past four consecutive years.
Which sexually transmitted diseases and infections are most prevalent here in Kansas, how have rates of them changed in our state over time and which areas of Kansas are most prone to STD infections? To understand the state of STDs in Kansas, we’ll examine data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chlamydia Rates in Kansas
More than 13,000 people were diagnosed with chlamydia in Kansas in 2018, and after adjusting for population differences between the states, Kansas ranks in the bottom half of the states. The population-adjusted chlamydia rate in Kansas is about 8% lower than the overall U.S. rate.
Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people, bottom 25
Kansas may be near the bottom when it comes to chlamydia prevalence, but things may not stay that way if trends continue. That’s because chlamydia has become nearly 50% more common in Kansas since 2008.
Kansas chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Only one Midwestern state, Illinois, ranks among the top 10 in the nation for chlamydia prevalence, and Kansas is in the bottom half of the region.
Chlamydia infection rate, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Gonorrhea Rates in Kansas
Gonorrhea is one of the few STDs in which the population-adjusted rate in Kansas is higher than the overall U.S. rate, though it’s not by much — only about 5%. Still, it’s enough to rank Kansas at No. 18 among all states for gonorrhea prevalence.
Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people, top 25
The gonorrhea rate here in Kansas has risen every year since 2013 and climbed by more than 120% between 2008 and 2018.
Kansas gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Ohio is the only Midwestern state to rank in the top 10 nationally, but Kansas comes in fourth overall in the region.
Gonorrhea infection rate, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Syphilis Rates in Kansas
The rate of primary and secondary syphilis in Kansas is just over half that of the nation overall, and the state comes in at No. 35 nationally.
Primary and secondary syphilis infections per 100,000 people, bottom 20
While it’s true that the rate of syphilis in Kansas is among the lowest of all the states, we’ve seen a huge surge of this potentially serious disease in recent years. The rate has risen more than 600% since the 10-year low recorded in 2010.
Kansas primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
No Midwestern state ranks among the top 10 for syphilis, and Kansas comes in just in the top half among all Midwestern states.
Primary and secondary syphilis infection rates, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)
HIV & Other STD Rates in Kansas
Nearly 120 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Kansas in 2017, putting the state’s population-adjusted rate at 4.1 per 100,000 or 10th-lowest in the country. In more good news, the 2017 rate reflects a 20% decline from the previous year. See also HIV test options.
Hepatitis B & C
Acute cases of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C occur at lower rates in Kansas than in the nation overall, but rates of both viral hepatitis infections have varied wildly in recent years. Hep B cases are about 30% less common in Kansas than the U.S. as a whole, but the rate has climbed considerably, going up by 75% since 2014. For hep C infections, the rate in Kansas is about half that of the U.S. as a whole, and the state’s rate is showing signs of decline, dropping for the past few years after reaching a high in 2014. See also hepatitis test options.
Cancers related to human papillomavirus, or HPV, are slightly more common in Kansas than the national median rate. The population-adjusted rate in Kansas is 12 per 100,000, compared to the national median of 11.7 per 100,000. This indicates that untreated HPV may be slightly more common here in Kansas than in the rest of the nation. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and usually is not dangerous, but if it goes untreated, it can lead to several types of cancer. See also HPV test options.
STDs in Kansas Cities & Counties
Kansas as a whole may rank relatively low in terms of STD prevalence, but the same can’t be said for certain areas of the state. In fact, many counties have rates of STDs that exceed the state and national rates, and some cities account for large percentages of cases.
More than half the chlamydia cases in the state are diagnosed among people in the Wichita or Kansas City metro areas.
Kansas counties by chlamydia infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10
Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita combined to account for more than 76% of gonorrhea cases.
Kansas counties by gonorrhea infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10
Primary and secondary syphilis
More than two-thirds of syphilis cases were diagnosed among people in Kansas City or Wichita.
Kansas counties by primary and secondary syphilis infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
Kansas tends to have rates of sexually transmitted diseases on the lower side when compared to other states. But as the upward trends in most STDs reflect, that may not always be the case. Battling STDs means arming yourself with knowledge. Getting tested to learn your STD status is the best way to be sure that you avoid passing sexually transmitted diseases and infections along to your sexual partners. And here in Kansas, we know progress is possible. After all, the state has seen declines in HIV and multiple types of hepatitis.
- Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Disease Control & Prevention, STI/HIV Program, Calendar Year 2008-2018. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.kdheks.gov/sti_hiv/download/std_reports/Kansas_STI_Case_Rate_Report_CY_2008-2018.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NCHHSTP AtlasPlus. (Undated). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/atlas/index.htm
- 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.