The prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, is rising across the United States, a trend that’s largely reflected here in the state of Michigan, though our state’s sexual health picture is a bit better than much of the rest of the country, particularly states of similar size.

Where does Michigan fall nationally when it comes to how common STDs are? Which diseases are most common in our state, and how have those trends changed over time here in Michigan? To answer those questions, we’ll look at data from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chlamydia Rates in Michigan

Michigan ranks 24th among all states in its rate of chlamydia, but the state’s rate of 509.6 per 100,000 people is lower than the national rate of 528.8 per 100,000 people. Michigan is closest in population to Georgia and North Carolina, which both have far higher rates.

Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people, top 25

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
Arkansas 579.6
Arizona 571.3
Delaware 566.3
California 557.4
Maryland 555.4
Oklahoma 554.4
Nevada 553.1
Texas 543.9
Missouri 536.4
Ohio 528.6
Tennessee 527.5
Indiana 516.8
South Dakota 512.7
Michigan 511.9
Virginia 503.7
Total 528.8

The rate of chlamydia in Michigan has generally been on the rise over the past decade-plus, but more recent years have seen variable rates and relatively small increases. For instance, while Michigan’s rate jumped 13% between 2013 and 2017, several states saw their rates go up by about a third, including New Hampshire (+40.2%) and Connecticut (+39.7%).

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

2001 311.2
2002 322.2
2003 324.6
2004 410.2
2005 385.3
2006 380
2007 412.9
2008 468
2009 487.4
2010 510.6
2011 506.9
2012 492.9
2013 455.5
2014 452.5
2015 480.7
2016 477.6
2017 511.9

Michigan’s chlamydia rate is near the top 5 in the region, and the state is right in the middle of the pack in the Midwest.

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

Illinois 589.9
Ohio 543.3
Missouri 536.4
Indiana 516.8
South Dakota 512.7
Michigan 511.9
Wisconsin 480
Kansas 466.2
Nebraska 450.7
Iowa 443.2
North Dakota 432.5
Minnesota 426.4

 Gonorrhea Rates in Michigan

The population-adjusted rate of gonorrhea infections in Michigan is below the national level but still high enough to rank the state in the upper half nationally.

Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people (top 25)

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
Missouri 214.8
Ohio 206.4
California 192
Nevada 187.8
Delaware 187.4
Tennessee 186.8
Illinois 186.4
Maryland 182.5
Arizona 180.4
Indiana 178.4
New York 172.7
Texas 170.2
Kentucky 167.2
Kansas 156.3
Michigan 154.7
Total 171.9

Gonorrhea prevalence has increased in Michigan recently, but the state’s infection rate for gonorrhea is lower than it was at the beginning of this century.

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

2001 171.4
2002 147.5
2003 139.1
2004 172.8
2005 175.9
2006 165.3
2007 173.2
2008 180
2009 156.9
2010 140.9
2011 132.3
2012 129.2
2013 106.6
2014 97.5
2015 107
2016 129.6
2017 154.7

Michigan ranks in the middle of the Midwest for its gonorrhea rate, though its rate is lower than that of most of the states that border Michigan.

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

Ohio 216.3
Missouri 214.8
Illinois 186.4
Indiana 178.4
Kansas 156.3
Michigan 154.7
South Dakota 149.1
Nebraska 139.1
Wisconsin 132.6
North Dakota 127.4

Syphilis Rates in Michigan

Michigan’s rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases is in the bottom half nationally with a rate that’s about half the national rate.

Primary and secondary syphilis infections per 100,000 people, bottom 25

Wyoming 0.7
Alaska 1.8
Vermont 2.1
Nebraska 2.3
Wisconsin 3
Connecticut 3.1
Iowa 3.2
New Hampshire 3.2
West Virginia 3.4
South Dakota 3.8
Utah 3.8
Idaho 3.8
Kansas 4.6
Montana 4.6
Michigan 4.8
Indiana 4.8
Maine 4.9
Minnesota 5.3
Colorado 5.3
New Jersey 5.6
North Dakota 5.8
Kentucky 5.9
Delaware 6
Pennsylvania 6.2
Virginia 6.4
Total 9.5

Michigan’s rate of primary and secondary syphilis infections has fallen four out of the past five years with a slight increase overall since 2001 and a 26% jump between 2016 and 2017.

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

2001 4.3
2002 4.9
2003 2.5
2004 1.9
2005 1
2006 1.2
2007 1.4
2008 2.2
2009 2.3
2010 2.3
2011 2.8
2012 3
2013 5
2014 4.3
2015 4
2016 3.8
2017 4.8

Michigan’s syphilis infection rate is tied with neighboring state Indiana for the middle of the pack in the region.

Primary and secondary syphilis infection rates, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)

Illinois 9.6
Missouri 8.3
Ohio 6.3
North Dakota 5.8
Minnesota 5.3
Michigan 4.8
Indiana 4.8
Kansas 4.6
South Dakota 3.8
Iowa 3.2
Wisconsin 3
Nebraska 2.3

HIV & Other STD Rates in Michigan

HIV

More than 750 people in Michigan were diagnosed with HIV in 2017, but the state’s population-adjusted infection rate (7.8 per 100,000) is lower than the national infection rate of 11.7 per 100,000. However, the state’s rate of HIV infections did go up, though slightly, between 2016 and 2017 (+4%).

Hepatitis B & C

Acute infections of hepatitis B are about half the national prevalence in Michigan, and the state’s rate has declined significantly since 2013 (-38% between 2012 and 2016). Michigan has seen its rate of acute hep C cases rise in that time, though, and the state’s infection rate is slightly higher than the national rate (1.1 per 100,000 in Michigan vs 1 per 100,000 nationally).

HPV

Human papillomavirus is the most common STD in the world and remains the primary cause of several types of cancers, including cervical, penile, anal and vulvar cancer. Michigan’s rate of HPV-related cancer is right at the national median of 11.7 cases per 100,000 people.

STDs in Michigan Cities & Counties

While Michigan ranks near the middle or bottom of prevalence of most STDs, several parts of the state are driving the rates and increases noted in several of the STDs we’ve looked at.

Chlamydia

About 1 in 5 chlamydia cases in Michigan in 2017 occurred in Detroit, though it’s important to note that almost all of the state’s recent chlamydia rate increase occurred outside Detroit.

Michigan counties by chlamydia infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)

Wayne 882.8
Kalamazoo 876.1
Muskegon 822.7
Saginaw 703.9
Genesee 684.9
Ingham 661.3
Kent 648.8
Washtenaw 459.7
Macomb 393.2
Oakland 337
All others 325.4

Gonorrhea

Nearly 1 in 3 cases of gonorrhea in Michigan occurred in the city of Detroit in 2017.

Michigan counties by gonorrhea infection rate (cases per 100,000 population)

Wayne 352.1
Kalamazoo 324.7
Muskegon 324.1
Genesee 236.9
Saginaw 204.8
Ingham 194
Kent 173.1
Washtenaw 153.7
Macomb 105.1
Oakland 97.1
All others 55.6

Primary and secondary syphilis

Michigan’s syphilis rate have dropped since the state had an outbreak of the disease in 2013, but prevalence rose by more than 25% between 2016 and 2017, with most of the increase outside the city of Detroit.

Michigan counties by primary and secondary syphilis infection rate (cases per 100,000 population)*

Wayne 10.2
Washtenaw 5.5*
Oakland 5
Ingham 3.7*
Macomb 3.4*
Genesee 2.6*
Kent 2.2*
All others 0.9*

* Denotes average rate between 2012 and 2016, no data reported for 2017

Conclusion

While some sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, are becoming more common in our state, Michigan does rank near or at the middle nationally when it comes to prevalence of the majority of common STDs. For the state to continue improving the picture of sexual health of its residents, it’s important for sexually active people, especially those in high-risk groups, to get tested so they can be sure they’re not unwittingly passing STDs along.

Additional References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/SRtables.pdf

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, Michigan Annual STD Summary Report, 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdhhs/2017_std_report_final_633944_7.pdf

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, Rate of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis Cases. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.mdch.state.mi.us/pha/osr/Std/STDMasterTrends.asp?AreaCode=0&AreaType=S&ActiveGender=T&Stat=R

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: 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.