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

Connecticut 496.3
Kansas 488.9
Virginia 488.3
Florida 485.2
Wisconsin 485
Colorado 481.3
Hawaii 479.5
Iowa 467
Nebraska 450.7
Oregon 450
Washington 444
Minnesota 444
Pennsylvania 441.5
Montana 437.4
Kentucky 435.4
North Dakota 432.5
Massachusetts 425.7
New Jersey 392
Idaho 368.4
Wyoming 365.8
Maine 342.1
New Hampshire 330.5
Utah 323.7
Vermont 297.5
West Virginia 226.1
Total 528.8

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)

2008 327.9
2009 375.7
2010 339
2011 371.6
2012 387.9
2013 384
2014 380.5
2015 396.2
2016 417.7
2017 466.1
2018 488.9

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)

Illinois 589.9
Missouri 536.4
Ohio 528.6
Indiana 514.2
South Dakota 512.7
Michigan 511.9
Kansas 488.9
Wisconsin 485
Iowa 467
Nebraska 450.7
Minnesota 444
North Dakota 432.5

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

Mississippi 310
Alaska 295.1
Louisiana 256.7
South Carolina 254.4
Alabama 245.7
Oklahoma 231.4
Arkansas 223.5
North Carolina 220.9
Georgia 217.5
Ohio 216.3
Missouri 214.8
New Mexico 214
California 192
Delaware 187.4
Illinois 186.4
Tennessee 185
Nevada 184.9
Kansas 180.8
Arizona 180.5
Indiana 177.5
New York 172.7
Maryland 170.3
Texas 170.2
Kentucky 167.2
Michigan 154.7
Total 171.9

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)

2008 80.9
2009 89.7
2010 73.2
2011 77.5
2012 77.8
2013 75.4
2014 87.4
2015 87.5
2016 115.5
2017 156.3
2018 180.8

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)

Ohio 216.3
Missouri 214.8
Illinois 186.4
Kansas 180.8
Indiana 177.5
Michigan 154.7
Iowa 154
South Dakota 149.1
Minnesota 142
Nebraska 139.1
Wisconsin 135
North Dakota 127.4

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

North Dakota 5.8
New Jersey 5.6
Minnesota 5.5
Colorado 5.2
Kansas 5
Maine 4.9
Michigan 4.8
Indiana 4.8
Montana 4.6
Idaho 3.8
South Dakota 3.8
Utah 3.7
West Virginia 3.4
New Hampshire 3.2
Connecticut 3.1
Wisconsin 3
Iowa 2.7
Nebraska 2.3
Vermont 2.1
Wyoming 0.7
Total 9.5

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)

2008 1.1
2009 1.1
2010 0.7
2011 0.8
2012 0.8
2013 1.7
2014 2.1
2015 3
2016 4.3
2017 4.5
2018 5

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)

Illinois 9.6
Missouri 8.3
Ohio 6.3
North Dakota 5.8
Minnesota 5.5
Kansas 5
Michigan 4.8
Indiana 4.8
South Dakota 3.8
Wisconsin 3
Iowa 2.7
Nebraska 2.3

HIV & Other STD Rates in Kansas

HIV

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.

HPV

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.

Chlamydia

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

Wyandotte 804.3
Riley 683.1
Douglas 575.2
Sedgwick 554.8
Finney 549.6
Shawnee 533.2
Geary 518.5
Seward 514
Saline 502.8
Reno 470.8

Gonorrhea

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

Wyandotte 312.8
Shawnee 256.8
Sedgwick 206
Reno 156.9
Atchison 128.1
Harvey 119.8
Geary 110.7
Leavenworth 108.4
Douglas 104.2
Riley 98.3

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)

Morris 17.7
Ottawa 16.7
Pawnee 14.6
Sedgwick 9.4
Marion 8.3
Riley 8
Allen 7.9
Reno 7.8
Shawnee 7.3
Wyandotte 7.3

Conclusion

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.

Additional References

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.