The state of Nebraska has some of the lowest population-adjusted rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis, among all states. But if rates continue trending as most of them are, the state’s position as one of the states with the lowest STD burden could change. Nebraska is one of many states seeing increases in rates of STDs, as the nation has seen rates of several infections rise for the past four straight years.
How common are sexually transmitted disease and infections here in the state of Nebraska, how have certain diseases become more common over the past several years, and which areas of the state are STD epicenters? To understand how serious the STD problem is in Nebraska, let’s examine data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chlamydia Rates in Nebraska
Just under 9,000 people were diagnosed with chlamydia in Nebraska in 2017, which puts the state in 34th position overall among the 50 states, after adjusting for differences in population. Nebraska’s chlamydia rate is nearly 15% lower than the overall U.S. rate.
Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people, bottom 20
While Nebraska has a relatively low rate of chlamydia, that could change if trends hold. That’s because the rate of chlamydia in Nebraska has gone up every year since at least 2013, climbing nearly 24% in that time.
Nebraska chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Illinois is the only Midwestern state that ranks among the top 10 in the nation for chlamydia prevalence, and Nebraska has the third-lowest rate in the region.
Chlamydia infection rate, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Gonorrhea Rates in Nebraska
Nebraska’s population-adjusted rate of gonorrhea infections puts the state at No. 32 in the nation, and Nebraska’s rate is nearly 20% lower than the U.S. infection rate.
Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people, bottom 20
Gonorrhea prevalence has climbed steadily over the past several years, rising by an incredible 88% since 2013.
Nebraska gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Ohio is the sole state in the Midwest to rank among the 10 states with the highest gonorrhea rates, and Nebraska has the third-lowest rate in the entire region.
Gonorrhea infection rate, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Syphilis Rates in Nebraska
Nebraska boasts the third-lowest rate of primary and secondary syphilis in the nation, and the state’s rate is nearly 76% lower than the overall national rate.
Primary and secondary syphilis infections per 100,000 people
In addition to having one of the nation’s lowest syphilis rates, Nebraska managed to see a decline in syphilis prevalence between 2016 and 2017, which is something few states can say. Still, since 2012, syphilis has risen dramatically — by nearly 500%.
Nebraska primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Syphilis is most common in the South, where 6 of the 10 states with the highest rates are located. No Midwestern state is among the top 10.
Primary and secondary syphilis infection rates, Midwestern states (cases per 100,000 people)
HIV & Other STD Rates in Nebraska
Nebraska’s population-adjusted rate of new HIV infections is near the bottom quarter of the nation, as just under 90 people were diagnosed in 2017. Though Nebraska ranks near the bottom nationally, the state did see a modest increase from a rate of 4 per 100,000 in 2016 to 4.6 per 100,000 in 2017, which is a 15% jump. See also HIV test options.
Hepatitis B & C
Acute cases of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are less common here in Nebraska than in the U.S overall. Hep B is about 60% less common in Nebraska, but the state has seen its rate rise, doubling between 2015 and 2016. Acute hep C is far less common here than nationally, with Nebraska’s rate falling about 90% lower than the overall national rate. The state also has seen its rate remain relatively steady outside of a one-year blip in 2015. See also hepatitis test options.
Cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) occur at a lower rate here in Nebraska than in the nation overall. Nebraska’s rate of 11.4 per 100,000 is just under the national median of 11.7 per 100,000. Such cancers are a good marker of the seriousness of untreated HPV in a state, since several cancers (cervical, penile and anal, among others) are primarily caused by HPV, which is the most common STD in the world. See also HPV test options.
STDs in Nebraska Cities & Counties
Several Nebraska counties have rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis that exceed the state’s rates, and even the national rates, for those diseases. In addition, there are a few cities in Nebraska that account for large percentages of infections.
More than 1 in 2 cases of chlamydia in Nebraska occur in the Omaha metro area. Lincoln accounts for another 20%.
Nebraska counties by chlamydia infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10
More than 7 in 10 gonorrhea cases in Nebraska are diagnosed in people living in the Omaha metro area, while Lincoln accounts for another 14%.
Nebraska counties by gonorrhea infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10
Primary and secondary syphilis
More than 60% of primary and secondary syphilis cases are diagnosed among people in Omaha, with Lincoln adding another 13%.
Nebraska counties by primary and secondary syphilis infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
To be sure, it’s great news that Nebraska ranks so low among all states when it comes to how common sexually transmitted diseases are. But with most STDs seeing their rates rise, that position may not last long. That’s why it’s so important to be sure that you are not passing any infections along to sexual partners unknowingly. Did you know that data indicates that the vast majority of people who are infected with STDs are not aware? Learning your status can help you not only take control of your health but also can help prevent you from contributing to rising STD rates here in Nebraska.
- 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.