According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), reported cases of gonorrhea are increasing quickly in Iowa. Preliminary Iowa data indicate 3,600 cases of gonorrhea in 2017. This would be a 145 percent increase since 2013. There were 2,600 cases reported in 2016.


In Iowa, increases are occurring in both women and men and the rate of increase is higher among men. This likely signals an increase among men who have sex with men. About 80 percent of diagnoses are among persons 15 to 34 years of age.

Additionally, there continue to be disproportionate rates among Iowa’s black/African American populations. Despite making up about 3.5 percent of the Iowa’s population, just under 30 percent of the gonorrhea diagnoses occur among black/African American populations. By comparison, about 60 percent of the diagnoses are among white populations and they make up about 91 percent of Iowa’s population.

A syphilis primer

“Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated that higher rates of STDs among certain populations indicate that some combination of social forces are at work. Factors like neighborhood location, economic opportunity, income, rates of incarceration and even the number of alcohol outlets in particular neighborhoods have been associated with higher rates of STDs in some populations,” said IDPH STD Program Manager George Walton. “Further analysis is needed to determine which factors are most important in Iowa for each population that is disproportionately affected.”