Gonorrhea Statistics in the United States

According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of young adults in the United States between the ages of 15-24 comprise roughly 20 million Americans. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA estimates this same group accounts for twenty-five (25%) percent of the sexually transmitted diseases reported by health care officials. The total number of Gonorrhea cases in the US is estimated to be around 820,000, with 570,000 of those cases within the ages of 15-24.  In percentage terms, this translates to 70% of all new Gonorrhea cases within the United States.

 

So what does all this mean for the average individual? Yes, these statistics are sobering. When you have a large segment of the United States population accounting for the overwhelming majority of new cases of a specific STD, the indications would conclusively demonstrate there is a significant problem. The prevalence of Gonorrhea within this age demographic is an astounding statistic. As a result the United States government has instituted several public health campaigns to limit the spread of this specific Sexually Transmitted Disease.  In order for these statistics to make sense we need to dig deeper into the causes of Gonorrhea, who can get it and how it works. Understanding the nature of the disease will provide valuable information about how to combat Gonorrhea and hopefully reduce the incidence and prevalence rates of the disease.

 

A Prima Facie analysis requires we discuss how Gonorrhea is spread between individuals. So how can one get an STD?  Obviously, one receives an STD by engaging in sexually activity with one or multiple partners-most likely without the proper protection in place.  Contrary to common notions and sentiments in American society, partners do not have to “go all the way” during sexual activity to transmit certain STDs. Several STDs are transmitted via simple skin-to-skin contact. A couple examples of such STDs include herpes and hpv.

 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases are extremely prevalent within the younger demographic; STDs span all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Gonorrhea, like most STDs, does not discriminate. However, there are subsets of the younger demographic that are more susceptible to Gonorrhea more so than others. Younger women’s bodies are more vulnerable to the onset of Gonorrhea than women in their late twenties to early thirties.  Another contributing factor to the high level of transmission of Gonorrhea throughout the younger demographic within the United States is the fact that younger individuals do not actively seek out the required tests needed to determine if one has been infected with an STD.

 

As depressing as these statistics and information appears to be, the good news is that as men and women age the level of Gonorrhea incidence (new case) and prevalence (rates of infection) decreases significantly.  Between the ages of 29-39 the rate of Gonorrhea cases within the whole of the female demographic drops by a staggering 75%. As for men, between the ages of 29-39 the incidence of Gonorrhea drops by a healthy 59%. This statistical difference can be attributed to the fact that women tend to be in monogamous relationships earlier in life than men.

 

While most of the STD research and statistics revolves around age as well as gender, it is imperative that any discussion of STD statistics involves an analysis of which ethnic groups are more susceptible to succumbing to an STD infection. According to the CDC’s research in 2017, the group with the most incidence of Gonorrhea is African Americans with a rate of approximately 450 cases per 100,000 in population.  Surprisingly the group with the second highest incidence rates of Gonorrhea was American Indians and Alaska Natives with approximately 100 cases of the disease per 100,000 in population. Therefore, the rates among African Americans as opposed to American Indians are roughly three times greater.  Public health officials, scientists and the United States government have endeavored several research avenues into determining how to limit the incidence of Gonorrhea among specific racial and ethnic groups.

 

Also, no discussion of STD statistics is not complete without a cursory analysis of state specific data of the incidence rates of Gonorrhea; this data is not based on race, ethnicity or gender. The state with the highest incidence rates of Gonohrrea is North Carolina with 199 per 100,000 in population. Conversely the state with the lowest incidence rates of Gonorrhea is the state of Idaho, with only 29 per 100,000 in population. It is worth mentioning, however, these statistics might not be entirely reflective of the true nature of the Gonorrhea issue within each state. For instance, North Carolina has more of a diverse population, combined with several educational and economic centers dispersed throughout the state would place the state in a position to have higher levels of  Gonorrhea than a more mono-racial and mono-ethnic state as Idaho.

 

Additionally, incidence rates of Gonorrhea are more prevalent in gay and bi-sexual men than in heterosexual men. The data from the Centers for Disease Control demonstrate that across all age groups, the levels of Gonorrhea first time cases for gay and bi-sexual men outpaces all other groups, including women, by an average factor of 2.5 times.  Therefore, this indicates that members of the homosexual community are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Gonorrhea. The overall level of exposure declines as age progresses. The age cohort with the highest level of Gonorrhea cases would be 25-29, with 20% of this community having been diagnosed with Gonorrhea; conversely the cohort above 40 years old, would drop to nearly half that number-approximately 12%.

 

Gonorrhea is a highly infectious, non-lethal STD which is most prevalent in younger adults, specifically women, gay and bi-sexual men. The states with the highest concentrations of Gonorrhea cases tend to be eastern states with large population centers (i.e. large cities, universities); whereas the states with the lowest percentage of Gonorrhea cases are those states located in the Mountain West where there are fewer major population centers and only a handful of major universities-where younger individuals are more likely to be concentrated.

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