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

Highest
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
Total 528.8
Lowest
Massachusetts 430.4
Minnesota 426.4
New Jersey 392
Idaho 368.4
Wyoming 365.8
Maine 342.1
Utah 332.2
New Hampshire 330.5
Vermont 297.5
West Virginia 226.1

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)

2012 307
2013 317.8
2014 334.9
2015 350.2
2016 385
2017 392

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)

New York 591.6
Rhode Island 500
Connecticut 496.3
Pennsylvania 441.5
Massachusetts 430.4
New Jersey 392
Maine 342.1
New Hampshire 330.5
Vermont 297.5

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

Highest
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
Total 171.9
Lowest
New Jersey 105.5
Rhode Island 102.9
Hawaii 95.1
Utah 83.3
Montana 75
West Virginia 70.8
Wyoming 70.4
Idaho 58.6
Maine 46.6
New Hampshire 38.4
Vermont 32.5

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)

2012 84.3
2013 78.7
2014 74.3
2015 80.8
2016 91
2017 105.5

North Carolina ranks near the middle of the pack among all Northeastern states.

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

New York 172.7
Pennsylvania 119.2
Massachusetts 113.6
Connecticut 109.4
New Jersey 105.5
Rhode Island 102.9
Maine 46.6
New Hampshire 38.4
Vermont 32.5

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

Highest
Nevada 20
California 17.1
Louisiana 14.5
Georgia 14.5
Arizona 13.6
New York 11.9
Florida 11.6
North Carolina 10.6
Mississippi 10.4
Total 9.5
Lowest
New Jersey 5.6
South Dakota 3.8
West Virginia 3.4
New Hampshire 3.2
Iowa 3.2
Connecticut 3.1
Wisconsin 3
Nebraska 2.3
Vermont 2.1
Alaska 1.8
Wyoming 0.7

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)

2012 2.6
2013 2.6
2014 3.4
2015 4.2
2016 5.2
2017 5.6

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)

New York 11.9
Massachusetts 7.9
Rhode Island 6.7
Pennsylvania 6.2
New Jersey 5.6
Maine 4.9
New Hampshire 3.2
Connecticut 3.1
Vermont 2.1

HIV & Other STD Rates in New Jersey

HIV

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.

HPV

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.

Chlamydia

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

Essex 753.7
Cumberland 681.1
Camden 625.8
Passaic 539.8
Mercer 484.9
Atlantic 463.8
Salem 461.8
Hudson 448.2
Union 396.5
Burlington 383

Gonorrhea

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

Camden 257.7
Essex 249.5
Cumberland 241.2
Salem 173.6
Atlantic 158.9
Mercer 147
Passaic 144.6
Hudson 120.9
Gloucester 101.3
Burlington 98.5

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)*

Hudson 14.6
Essex 12.2

* 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.

Conclusion

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.

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. 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.