STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, are rising in the United States, and New York is no exception. In the space of just one year, the state saw increases in two of the three common STDs that are reported to federal health officials — chlamydia (+7%) and gonorrhea (+17%). Zooming back even further (2013-2017), rates for both of those diseases have surged, as has the rate of syphilis.
These increases largely track with the changes that are seen nationally, though New York does have higher-than-average rates of these and some other STDs.
So which STDs are most common in our state, how does the city of New York drive infection rates and how have these diseases become more (or less) common over time? Read on to explore data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State Department of Health.
Chlamydia Rates in New York
Chlamydia is the most common federally notifiable STD in the U.S., and it’s the most common in New York as well. While the state’s population-adjusted rate of chlamydia is only about 12% higher than the national rate, that’s enough to place New York among the states with the highest rates of chlamydia.
Chlamydia infections per 100,000 people (top 20)
New York’s chlamydia rate has gone up every year since 2012, and since 2001, it’s more than doubled.
New York chlamydia rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
New York has the highest chlamydia rate of any regional neighbors. In fact, no other Northeastern state’s chlamydia rate is higher than the national rate of 528.8.
Chlamydia infection rate, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Gonorrhea Rates in New York
New York ranks third overall in the nation in total numbers of gonorrhea infections, but the state falls down to No. 21 when accounting for population. Still, New York accounted for about 6% of all gonorrhea infections in the U.S. in 2017.
Gonorrhea infections per 100,000 people (top 25)
Though New York falls outside the top 20 when it comes to the rate of gonorrhea infections, the state’s rate is still slightly above the overall national rate, and New York’s gonorrhea infection rate has gone up every year since 2013. Since dropping to a historic low in 2009, the rate has roared back, climbing by 96% through 2017.
New York gonorrhea rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
Among its regional neighbors, New York’s gonorrhea rate is the highest and the only one that eclipses the national rate.
Gonorrhea infection rate, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
Syphilis Rates in New York
More than 2,300 cases of primary and secondary syphilis were reported in New York in 2017, putting the state third overall, just ahead of Texas. Accounting for population differences, New York remains near the states most affected by syphilis.
Syphilis infections per 100,000 people (top 15)*
* Primary and secondary syphilis
New York had maintained a syphilis infection rate in the single digits for well over a decade, but the state’s rate went up every year between 2011 and 2016 and is approaching rates last seen in the early 1990s.
New York primary and secondary syphilis rate by year (cases per 100,000 people)
New York’s syphilis rate is the highest in the region and the only one that is higher than the national rate of 9.5.
Syphilis infection rates, Northeastern states (cases per 100,000 people)
HIV & Other STD Rates in New York
More than 2,700 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in New York in 2017, putting the state fourth behind Texas. When adjusted for population, New York has the ninth-highest HIV diagnosis rate in the country at 14 per 100,000 people, nearly 20% higher than the national rate of 11.8 per 100,000 people. But the state (and the country overall) have seen HIV rates fall since 2016, and New York’s rate dropped by about 2%. See also HIV test options.
Hepatitis B & C
Acute infection rates for hepatitis B and hepatitis C in New York are lower than the national rates. Nationally, acute hep B cases occur at a rate of 1 per 100,000, while New York’s rate is 0.5 per 100,000 people. However, the state saw its hep B rate climb by one-quarter between 2015 and 2016. Acute hep C infection rates occur at a similar rate as hep B nationally. While New York’s rate is lower than the national level, acute hep C cases have surged in recent years, rising about 80% between 2012 and 2016. See also hepatitis test options.
By a wide margin, human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It’s so common that virtually every sexually active person will contract it at some point in their lives. While a vast majority of cases clear up on their own within a couple of years, some people remain infected with types of the virus that cause cancer. Most cases of cervical, penile and anal cancers are directly related to HPV. The good news for New York is that the state ranks among the states with the lowest rates of these types of cancers being diagnosed. See also HPV test options.
STD Rates in New York City
New York City is the largest city in the United States with a population estimated at well over 8.5 million people. Understandably, a concentrated population this size can often serve to sway statistical analysis of anything, including health data.
Among all three of the nationally notifiable STDs, rates in New York City far eclipse rates in the remainder of the state.
About 60% of chlamydia infections in New York in 2017 occurred in New York City, and Brooklyn alone accounted for nearly 1 in 5.
New York City boroughs by chlamydia infection rates (cases per 100,000 people)
About 68% of all gonorrhea diagnoses in New York in 2017 were in New York City, and Manhattan alone accounted for nearly one-quarter.
New York City boroughs by gonorrhea infection rates (cases per 100,000 people)
Primary & secondary syphilis
New York City accounted for more than 75% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in 2017, and infection rates are highest in Manhattan.
New York City boroughs by syphilis infection rates (cases per 100,000 people)
Sexually transmitted diseases are incredibly common, and New York has some of the highest infection rates in the country, so it’s likely that if you’re reading this from New York, you or someone you know has at least one of the diseases listed here.
The good news is that most STDs are easily treated and can be cured. And while some can’t be completely cured, they often can be so successfully treated that you can live a full, healthy life without passing anything bad to your sexual partners.
But the first step is finding out if you have an STD in the first place, and that means getting tested.
- 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, Surveillance for Viral Hepatitis – United States, 2016. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/2016surveillance/index.htm
- New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Sexual Health and Epidemiology, Sexually Transmitted Infections Surveillance Report. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/diseases/communicable/std/docs/sti_surveillance_report_2017.pdf
Note: The CDC publishes comprehensive STD data on only three of the many conditions that are sexually transmitted — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and primary and secondary syphilis. Many other STDs are not classified as nationally notifiable diseases, meaning states are not legally obligated to report infection rates. Also, while the CDC collects data for the District of Columbia, the population density of the district prevents it from being included in rankings.