Disparities in Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates Across the “Eight Americas”

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Background:The purpose of this study was to examine rates of 3 bacterial sexually transmitted diseases (STDs; syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia) in 8 subpopulations (known as the “eight Americas”) defined by race and a small number of county-level sociodemographic and geographical characteristics. The eight Americas are (1) Asians and Pacific Islanders in specific counties; (2) Northland low-income rural white; (3) Middle America; (4) Low-income whites in Appalachia and Mississippi Valley; (5) Western Native American; (6) Black middle America; (7) Southern low-income rural black; and (8) High-risk urban black.Methods:A list of the counties comprising each of the eight Americas was obtained from the corresponding author of the original eight Americas project, which examined disparities in mortality rates across the eight Americas. Using county-level STD surveillance data, we calculated syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia rates (new cases per 100,000) for each of the eight Americas.Results:Reported STD rates varied substantially across the eight Americas. STD rates were generally lowest in Americas 1 and 2 and highest in Americas 6, 7, and 8.Conclusions:Although disparities in STDs across the eight Americas are generally similar to the well-established disparities in STDs across race/ethnicity, the grouping of counties into the eight Americas does offer additional insight into disparities in STDs in the United States. The high STD rates we found for black Middle America are consistent with the assertion that sexual networks and social factors are important drivers of racial disparities in STDs.

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