Nevada ranks among the leaders in the nation in how prevalent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are across the states. Nevada is the No. 1 overall state when it comes to primary and secondary syphilis frequency, and it ranks in the top 20 for chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. In addition, Nevada’s rates of most sexually transmitted diseases and infections are on the rise, which largely tracks with a national trend that has seen rates of several STDs rise for four consecutive years.
Which STDs and related infections are most common here in Nevada, how have their rates changed over the years, and which areas of the state are buoying Nevada’s position near the top of most lists? To answer those questions and explore the state of sexual health in Nevada, we’ll examine information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health.
Chlamydia Rates in Nevada
About 16,000 people in Nevada were diagnosed with chlamydia in 2017, ranking the state at No. 32 for sheer numbers. But after adjusting for population differences, Nevada rises all the way to No. 17 among the 50 states. However, Nevada’s rate is less than 10% higher than the overall U.S. rate.
Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people, top 25
The chlamydia rate in Nevada has fluctuated quite dramatically over the past few years, but since 2008, it’s climbed by more than 50%.
Nevada chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Two Western states are among the 10 states with the highest rates of chlamydia, including national leader Alaska, which helps push Nevada to the middle of the pack regionally. Nevada’s rate is still about 30% lower than Alaska’s.
Chlamydia infection rate, Western states (cases per 100,000 people)
Gonorrhea Rates in Nevada
Similarly to the state’s placement in the chlamydia rankings, Nevada is No. 17 overall among the 50 states with a rate slightly higher than the overall national level.
Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people, top 25
The gonorrhea rate in Nevada has climbed every year since 2011, and over the past 10 years, the rate has more than doubled.
Nevada gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Nevada ranks fourth overall in its region for gonorrhea cases, and the state’s rate is nearly 30% lower than the regional leader and overall national No. 2, Alaska.
Gonorrhea infection rate, Western states (cases per 100,000 people)
Syphilis Rates in Nevada
Nevada leads the nation in the prevalence of primary and secondary syphilis, the two earliest stages of syphilis in which the disease is considered its most infectious. Wyoming has the lowest syphilis rate in the nation, 96% lower than Nevada’s.
Primary and secondary syphilis infections per 100,000 people
Syphilis has become more common in Nevada almost every year for the past 10 years, and it’s basically exploded since 2008, climbing by more than 500% in that time.
Nevada primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Nevada’s syphilis rate is about 15% higher than the next-highest Western state, California.
Primary and secondary syphilis infection rates, Western states (cases per 100,000 people)
HIV & Other STD Rates in Nevada
Nearly 500 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Nevada in 2017, giving Nevada the fifth-highest rate of HIV diagnoses among the 50 states. There is some good news, though: Nevada’s HIV rate dropped about 5% between 2016 and 2017. See also HIV test options.
Hepatitis B & C
Acute infections of hepatitis B and hepatitis C occur at lower rates in Nevada than they do nationally, though rates have fluctuated in recent years. Acute hep B infections occur in Nevada at a rate about 30% lower than the overall U.S. rate, and Nevada’s rate dropped about 20% between 2015 and 2016. Acute hep C infections are about half as common in Nevada as the U.S. overall, but the rate jumped by about 25% between 2015 and 2016. See also hepatitis test options.
Most sexually active people will contract human papillomavirus at some point in their lives, making HPV by far the most common STD in the world. It’s so common and so rarely causes symptoms that it often isn’t detected until it’s caused a serious health problem, such as cervical cancer. In fact, HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer and several other types of cancer, including penile and anal cancers. Examining a state’s rate of HPV-caused cancer can help reveal more details about how often HPV goes untreated in the state. HPV-caused cancer occurs in Nevada at a rate of about 11.3 per 100,000, slightly lower than the national median of 11.7 per 100,000. See also HPV test options.
STDs in Nevada Cities & Counties
As in most states, urban areas in Nevada tend to have an outsized influence on a state’s STD rates. In fact, the Las Vegas area accounts for a majority of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in Nevada.
Nearly all cases of chlamydia in Nevada were diagnosed in Las Vegas or Reno.
Nevada counties by chlamydia infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
|All other counties||312.6|
Reno and Las Vegas accounted for all but about 3% of gonorrhea cases in 2017.
Nevada counties by gonorrhea infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
|All other counties||57.5|
Primary and secondary syphilis
Nearly 9 in 10 syphilis cases in Nevada were diagnosed in people living in Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas metro area had the highest rate of primary and secondary syphilis among all major U.S. metro areas.
Nevada counties by primary and secondary syphilis infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)
|All other counties||1.6|
Sexually transmitted diseases and infections are very common throughout the state of Nevada and particularly in the city of Las Vegas. And most STDs and related infections are becoming more common. But everyday people can make a difference and stem the tide of STDs in Nevada. How? By ensuring they get tested for the STDs they’re most at risk of contracting. Most people who are infected with STDs are unaware of their status and so they unwittingly pass their infections along, which helps make STD rates higher. Getting yourself tested means that you have the power to prevent STDs from spreading throughout the population.
- Nevada Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention And Control Program, Publications. (2019). Retrieved from http://dpbh.nv.gov/Programs/STD/dta/Publications/Sexually_Transmitted_Disease_(STD)_Prevention_and_Control_Program-_Publications/
- 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, Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2017. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/SRtables.pdf
- 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. Additionally, some states reported rates that differed from the CDC-reported data for all years, and where the rates were similar, we’ve substituted the state-level data. Where the differences were substantial, we maintained the CDC-reported data in the interest of ensuring fair comparison across the states.