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A condom continues to be the most effective method to prevent these diseases. Photo: Pixabay.

Philadelphia has the fifth-highest STD rate among U.S. cities, per new study

A new study from Innerbody Research warns of rising infection rates in the top 100 U.S. cities.


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Philadelphia ranks fifth on a recent list of 100 U.S. cities with the highest rates of STDs. The list, put out by Innerbody Research, preceded STD Awareness Week, which runs from April 9 to 15. The rankings used the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The research team behind the list delved into the latest surveillance statistics and offered an analysis of current trends in 2023.

“For our 6th annual study of STD rates, Innerbody Research analyzed the latest statistics on a city-by-city basis and developed our list of the Top 100 cities with the highest STD rates. In this year’s report, the city with the highest STD rate was Memphis, TN, overtaking Jackson, MS, which moved to 2nd,” cited Innerbody.

Get to know: STD Awareness Week

STD Awareness Week is a seven-day effort to raise awareness about sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, and how they affect our lives.

The goal of the week is to reduce stigma, fear and discrimination related to STIs, ensuring that people have the tools and knowledge for prevention, testing and treatment.

According to data presented by Innerbody, the CDC estimates that about 20% of the U.S. population, about one in five people in the U.S., had an STI on any given day in 2018, and STIs acquired that year cost the U.S. healthcare system nearly $16 billion in health care costs alone.

“In this context, innovative testing strategies are critical for prevention. Opportunities for phone, video, or online health care visits are expanding STI care beyond the clinic setting, which in turn can help us reduce infections and address the challenges of health care access,” noted Innerbody.

The cities with the highest rates

Innerbody also highlighted that as the country moves past the current public health emergency, it is important not to lose sight of the viruses that preceded the pandemic and currently infect more than 110 million Americans, with more than 20 million new infections every year.

The study also highlighted cities where STD rates have significantly improved or decreased, and examined correlations between infection rates and levels of local health spending. Racial disparities emerging from the CDC data are also brought to the forefront.

Key findings

Findings and trends to keep an eye on:

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis top the list of most commonly reported new STD infections. While reported cases of chlamydia dropped by just over a percent since 2016, cases of gonorrhea and syphilis rose by 45% and 52%, respectively.
  • The South continues to be disproportionately represented among the hardest-hit cities. Of the Top 25, 14 are Southern cities.
  • Three of the Top 25 cities are located in Florida, which is an improvement from last year when four were included. Miami and Jacksonville both saw their rankings worsen from 23rd and 24th to 16th and 17th, respectively.
  • Meanwhile, across the country, major California cities saw some significant movement in rankings. San Francisco improved rather dramatically from 3rd to 15th. Los Angeles and San Diego both saw worsening conditions and now sit at 33rd and 48th rather than 37th and 55th, respectively. Sacramento improved from 51st to 66th.
  • 13 California cities are in the rankings this year — the most from any state. In 2022, it tied with Texas, but only seven cities from the Lone Star State appear on the list this year.

Philadelphia's situation

Philadelphia was the city with the fifth-highest rate of STDs in the U.S.

  • STD Cases per 100,000: 1,200
  • HIV cases: 552
  • Chlamydia cases: 28,827
  • Gonorrhea cases: 11,824
  • Syphilis cases: 1,616

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