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

Alaska 799.8
Louisiana 742.4
Mississippi 707.6
New Mexico 651.6
South Carolina 649.8
Georgia 623.7
Alabama 615.5
North Carolina 612.2
New York 591.6
Illinois 589.9
Maryland 586.3
Arkansas 579.6
Arizona 571.8
Delaware 566.3
California 557.4
Oklahoma 554.4
Nevada 544.7
Texas 543.9
Missouri 536.4
Ohio 528.6
Tennessee 522.5
Indiana 514.2
South Dakota 512.7
Michigan 511.9
Rhode Island 500
Total 528.8

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)

2008 355
2009 367.3
2010 344.3
2011 368.4
2012 407.1
2013 400.2
2014 456.7
2015 449.7
2016 496
2017 544.7

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)

Alaska 799.8
New Mexico 651.6
Arizona 571.8
California 557.4
Nevada 544.7
Colorado 481.3
Hawaii 479.5
Oregon 450
Washington 442.2
Montana 437.4
Idaho 368.4
Wyoming 365.8
Utah 323.7

 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

Mississippi 309.8
Alaska 295.1
Louisiana 256.7
South Carolina 254.4
Alabama 245.7
Oklahoma 231.4
Arkansas 224.5
North Carolina 220.9
Georgia 217.5
Ohio 216.3
New Mexico 215.7
Missouri 214.8
California 192
Delaware 187.4
Illinois 186.4
Tennessee 185
Nevada 184.9
Arizona 180.5
Indiana 177.5
New York 172.7
Maryland 170.3
Texas 170.2
Kentucky 167.2
Kansas 156.3
Michigan 154.7
Total 171.9

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)

2008 80
2009 63.1
2010 60.1
2011 73.8
2012 82.7
2013 91.8
2014 120.2
2015 126.3
2016 148.3
2017 184.9

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)

Alaska 295.1
New Mexico 215.7
California 192
Nevada 184.9
Arizona 180.5
Colorado 151.1
Washington 136
Oregon 121.3
Hawaii 95.1
Utah 81.2
Montana 75
Wyoming 70.4
Idaho 58.6

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

Highest
Nevada 19.7
California 17.1
Georgia 14.5
Louisiana 14.5
Arizona 13.1
Maryland 12.2
New York 11.9
Florida 11.6
North Carolina 10.6
Mississippi 10.4
Total 9.5
Lowest
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
Alaska 1.8
Wyoming 0.7

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)

2008 2.9
2009 3.3
2010 4.9
2011 5
2012 4.5
2013 7.5
2014 10.8
2015 11.7
2016 15
2017 19.7

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)

Nevada 19.7
California 17.1
Arizona 13.1
Washington 9.3
New Mexico 9.3
Oregon 8.6
Hawaii 6.6
Colorado 5.2
Montana 4.6
Idaho 3.8
Utah 3.7
Alaska 1.8
Wyoming 0.7

HIV & Other STD Rates in Nevada

HIV

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.

HPV

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.

Chlamydia

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)

Washoe 551.9
Clark 543.2
Carson/Douglas/Lyon 414.4
All other counties 312.6

Gonorrhea

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)

Clark 202.2
Washoe 163.5
All other counties 57.5
Carson/Douglas/Lyon 53.6

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)

Clark 23.7
Washoe 12.6
Carson/Douglas/Lyon 5
All other counties 1.6

Conclusion

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.

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. 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.