New Jersey routinely ranks among the U.S. states with the lowest prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, with rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis that all are below the national rates. But the bad news is that New Jersey has seen rates of all three of those common STDs rise in recent years, which reflects a trend that’s happening nationally.
Which sexually transmitted infections are most common in New Jersey, how have rates of some STDs changed over time, and how does the picture of sexual health change depending on where in the state you’re looking? For answers to those questions, we’ll examine federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New Jersey State Department of Health statistics.
Chlamydia Rates in New Jersey
New Jersey saw more than 35,000 infections of chlamydia in 2017, 13th-most in the country. But after adjusting for population, the prevalence of chlamydia in the state is quite low, about 25% lower than the national rate.
Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people
While the state’s rate of chlamydia is low relative to the rest of the country, New Jersey has seen a fairly dramatic increase of the rate over the past few years, with the rate jumping more than 27% between 2012 and 2017.
New Jersey chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Only one Northeastern state, New York, ranks among the top 25 nationally for chlamydia rates, and New Jersey ranks in the bottom half of the region.
Chlamydia infection rate, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Gonorrhea Rates in New Jersey
New Jersey ranks just outside the bottom 10 states with a chlamydia rate that’s nearly 40% lower than the nationally reported rate.
Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people
The prevalence of gonorrhea has steadily increased in New Jersey, though the state’s increase over the past few years is one of the nation’s lowest. In fact, the state with the largest increase between 2013 and 2017 is Wyoming with an eye-popping 523% increase.
New Jersey gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
North Carolina ranks near the middle of the pack among all Northeastern states.
Gonorrhea infection rate, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Syphilis Rates in New Jersey
Unlike chlamydia and gonorrhea, diseases for which New Jersey ranked near or in the 10 states with the lowest rates, New Jersey’s syphilis rate is nearer to the national median. Still, New Jersey’s rate of 5.6 per 100,000 is significantly lower than the national rate of 9.5 per 100,000 people.
Primary and secondary syphilis infections per 100,000 people
Rates of primary and secondary syphilis have more than doubled since 2012, rising 115%.
New Jersey primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
New Jersey’s rate of primary and secondary syphilis places the state right in the middle of its regional neighbors.
Primary and secondary syphilis infection rates, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
HIV & Other STD Rates in New Jersey
More than 1,000 people in New Jersey were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2017, marking a decline in the number of diagnoses from 2016. Adjusted for population, the state ranks among the 15 states with the highest HIV infection rates, and New Jersey’s rate of 12.3 per 100,000 is higher than the national rate of 11.8 per 100,000. See also HIV test options.
Hepatitis B & C
Acute infections of hepatitis B are less common here in New Jersey than in the rest of the country, and the state has managed to post a decline in the rate of about 22% since 2015. Acute infections of hepatitis C, on the other hand, are both more common here than in the rest of the country and are becoming more prevalent in New Jersey. The state’s acute hep C rate is more than 25% higher than the national rate and has gone up by 75% since 2012. See also hepatitis test options.
The main cause of several types of cancer, including cervical, penile, anal and vulvar, is an STD, human papillomavirus, the most common STD in the world. While neither the state nor the federal government reports regular data on the prevalence of HPV in New Jersey, we do know the frequency of HPV-caused cancers in the state. New Jersey has a lower-than-median rate of HPV-related cancer, 11.3 per 100,000 vs. the national median of 11.7 per 100,000. See also HPV test options.
STDs in New Jersey Cities & Counties
While New Jersey tends to have lower rates of STDs than many other states across the country, some locales around the state have rates higher than the state figures and much higher than other areas of the state.
The Newark area accounted for more than 1 in 4 chlamydia cases in 2017 in New Jersey.
New Jersey counties by chlamydia infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10
Newark and Camden, two major metros, accounted for a combined 40% of all gonorrhea cases in the state.
New Jersey counties by gonorrhea infection rate (cases per 100,000 people), top 10
Primary and secondary syphilis
Newark accounted for at least 20% of reports of primary and secondary syphilis in 2017, though the data provided by the state is incomplete for most counties in this metro area, so it’s likely that number is higher.
New Jersey counties by primary and secondary syphilis infection rate (cases per 100,000 people)*
* New Jersey’s data for 2017 was incomplete for a majority of counties, so only those with rates listed for both primary and secondary are included here.
New Jersey ranks near the bottom or in the lower half of states when it comes to how common many different sexually transmitted diseases are here. But as the increases in almost all STD rates have shown, there’s no room for complacency. Individuals can help push down the rates of STDs in New Jersey by engaging in responsible practices, including getting themselves tested for a range of STDs, particularly folks who are at higher risk of contracting these diseases than others based on their sexual behavior and other lifestyle differences.
- State of New Jersey Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data interactive tools. (2018). Accessed from https://www-doh.state.nj.us/doh-shad/query/builder/std/STD/CrudeRate.html
- 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.