Feb 8, 2024 - Health

Louisiana ranks No. 1 for chlamydia infections

Illustration of gloved hand holding a Petri dish with an exclamation point

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."
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios New Orleans.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More New Orleans stories

No stories could be found

New Orleanspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios New Orleans.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more