Feb 8, 2024 - Health

Louisiana ranks No. 1 for chlamydia infections

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Louisiana had the highest rate of chlamydia infections in the country in 2022, and the state ranked No. 3 for gonorrhea and No. 9 for syphilis infections, according to new data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: These sexually transmitted diseases are preventable and curable.

  • Plus, there's a newly approved use for the low-cost antibiotic doxycycline, which can act as an STD preventative when taken up to 72 hours after an exposure.

The big picture: Nationally, the syphilis rate jumped by 9% in a single year, according to the CDC, with the total case number at its highest level since 1950, the AP reported.

  • Syphilis cases in particular have been increasing for about a decade, but deferred health care during the pandemic exacerbated the problem.
  • "STIs are skyrocketing across the entire country," says Louisiana Department of Health STD/HIV program director Samuel Burgess. "And they're rising at a greater pace in many other states more so than Louisiana, but we had a high burden of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis even before the national rates started rising in the past several years."

Worth noting: Louisiana's rates for congenital syphilis, which is when the disease is born to a baby via an infected mother, are also among the country's highest.

  • The state's 115 cases in 2022 led to a national ranking at No. 7.

What he's saying: "You always find that STIs are associated with social determinants of health, poverty rates [and] education levels," Burgess tells Axios New Orleans.

  • "Louisiana is a very poor state. It's not a coincidence that you see high rates in cities and states with high levels of poverty and poor education."

Plus: Louisiana doesn't require any sex education in its schools.

  • But when schools do offer it, educators can't provide students with any contraceptives, and they're legally required to emphasize abstinence "as the expected standard."

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