Massachusetts sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) cases are although below the national average, but the state’s rates of three most common STDs, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, are the highest among New England states. Massachusetts rates for chlamydia and syphilis increased substantially in 2015. The state ranked 41 out of the 50 US states in chlamydial and gonorrheal infections and 14th in primary and secondary syphilis rate per 100,000 people in 2015, according to the state profile released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most people experience feelings of hesitation when going to get tested for STD, despite knowing they might have contracted one. EasySTD was created to change that.
Visit your nearest lab or clinic, order your home testing kit online, and follow the given instructions from an STD testing provider.
After ordering your STD test, visit the testing center to get tested or take a self sample including urine, cotton swab, or finger prick with the home testing kit and mail it back.
Receive the lab-certified results of your STD test from your test provider via mail or phone within 2 to 3 days. If the test comes positive, consult your doctor immediately.
STDs are infections passed from person to person through sexual contact. The infection may be caused by bacteria, viruses, yeast, or parasites. There are over 20 different types of STDs, but the most common, reportable diseases are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
The CDC and the US Preventive Services Task Force recommend testing for chlamydia in sexually active females under 24 years of age as well as older females who are at higher risk of infection. The testing should be made a necessary part of their routine health checkup. Routine screening of males is recommended in higher prevalence clinical settings, for instance, correctional facilities, adolescent clinics, and STD clinics. Although every sexually active individual, regardless of their gender, should get tested for an STD at least once a year, the screening requirements are stricter for men who have sex with men and people with multiple sex partners.
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According to the Massachusetts Department of Health Integrated HIV/AIDS, STD, and Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report 2019, the state recorded 31,642 cases of chlamydia in 2019, which makes it the most frequently reported STI in the Commonwealth. The total number of reported chlamydia infections increased by 49% from 21,211 in 2010 to over 31,642 in 2019, and a similar trend was observed between 2015 and 2019 when the cases increased 32%, from 23,937 to 31,642 in Massachusetts.
The statewide chlamydia incidence rate was over 444 per 100,000 population in 2019, which was lower than the 2018 national rates of 539.9/100,000 people. In 2019, the state ranked the 12th lowest in chlamydia incidence rate among the 50 US states. It is worth noting that the largest concentration of chlamydial infections is reported in urban areas. The top five cities most impacted by chlamydia in 2019 were Provincetown (over 2,000 cases/100,000 people), Lawrence (over 1,300 cases/100,000 people), Brockton (1,223/100,000 people), Springfield (1,064/100,000 people), and Chelsea (981/100,000 people).
The state recorded a sharp incline of 58% in gonorrhea infection rate between 2016 and 2017, making gonorrhea the second most common infectious disease in Massachusetts during this time. Between 2010 and 2019, the state reported 3.3 times more cases among males, from 1,483 to 5,014 cases, respectively. During 2015 and 2019, cases of gonorrhea among males increased 89% from 2,650 to 5,014, while the number of gonorrhea diagnoses among males was twice more than females in 2019, with 5,014 and 2,105, respectively. However, it is worth noting that the number of gonorrhea cases among females has increased by 2.1 times between 2010-2019, with 1,012 and 2,105 cases, respectively.
In 2019, the state’s gonorrhea incidence rate was 109.1/100,000 population, which was lower than the national rate of 179.1/100,000 population in 2018. Massachusetts ranked 11th lowest in incidences of gonorrhea among the 50 US states. In 2019, the state reported 7,175 gonorrhea cases, and the cities with the highest incidence rates were Provincetown with 1,434.0/100,000 people, Springfield with 382.5/100,000 people, Boston with 312.8/100,000 people, Brockton with 278.8/100,000 people, and Fitchburg with 262.5/100,000 population.
Between 2010 and 2019, Massachusetts reported a 2.7 times increment in the number of confirmed infectious syphilis cases, with 465 and 1,243, respectively. During 2015 and 2019, a similar trend was noted as the state recorded a 56% increase with 798 and 1,243 cases, respectively.
Males reported the highest disease burden between 2010 and 2019 as their case totaled around 89% to 94% each year. In 2018, there were 9 times more syphilis cases reported in males in the state compared to females. In 2019, there were 9 cases of congenital syphilis reported in Massachusetts, whereas the statewide rate of infectious syphilis (which means primary and secondary stages of syphilis) increased substantially with 17.7 cases/100,000 people in 2018.
The state ranked 24th in primary/secondary syphilis rates among the 50 states. The five states that reported the highest disease burden include Boston with over 46 cases/100,000 population, Everett with 46.0 cases/100,000 people, Chelsea with 45.3 cases/100,000 people, Springfield with over 42 cases/100,000 people, and Framingham with 39.2 cases/100,000 people.
In 2019, around 46% of chlamydia cases in Massachusetts were reported among males, 67% among females, and 32% among the transgender community. Around 595 cases were reported among young adults and adolescents aged 15-24. During the same year, in Massachusetts, 25% of gonorrheal infections were reported among males, 48% among females, and 33% among the transgender community, while 32% of all cases were reported in people aged 15-24 years.
The estimated rate of infectious syphilis in 2019 was higher among men who have sex with men, with 588.5 cases reported per 100,000 population, and a majority of them were aged 18-64. This is 102 times higher infection rate than males who do not report sex with men as their rate was 5.8/100,000 population. Syphilis incidence across the state has increased by 56% among gay/bisexual men while men who have sex with men reported 71% of all syphilis cases reported in 2019.
Black (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic/Latino individuals accounted for 7% and 12% of the total state population, and 17% and 29% of the reported cases of infectious syphilis cases belonged to these races. Another shocking fact reported in the Massachusetts Department of Health’s STD surveillance report 2019 is that between 2010 to 2019, twice as many chlamydia cases were reported among females each year compared to males. The ratio of female to male chlamydia cases was 19,376 for females and 12,152 for males during this period. The most significant number of reported chlamydia cases was among 20-24 years olds and the second most impacted group was 15-19-year-olds.
However, the largest increase, nearly three times high, was recorded among individuals aged 50+ as cases increased from 270 in 2010 to 760 in 2019. Around half of all gonorrhea cases were reported among people aged 20-24 and 25-29 years between the same period. The number of cases among individuals aged 50+ nearly quadrupled between 2010 and 2019 with 149 and 612, respectively. Individuals aged between 30-39 years also reported a higher infection rate, with 459 reported cases in 2010 to 1,825 cases in 2019.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Partner Services Program (PSP) helps people diagnosed with STDs to get treatment for their infections. Furthermore, through this program, their partners are notified about their possible exposure to an STD and are offered help in getting tested as well as receiving medical care as per their needs.
The Massachusetts General Hospital Infectious Diseases Division offers world-class clinical care, research, treatment, education, and management of sexually transmitted infections. The Infectious Diseases Division has been offering innovative, standard-setting, and comprehensive care for STD patients and those suffering from any infectious disease since 1956. The department offers a wide range of inpatient/outpatient clinical care services to patients with infectious diseases.
The physicians associated with this division are required to conduct a broad range of basic and clinical research activities in numerous areas, including molecular biology, microbiology, host defense, and immunology. Moreover, the Massachusetts General Hospital Sexual Health Clinic promotes sexual health awareness by ensuring appropriate screening and treatment of STIs and offering access to preventive services, including HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
The Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences (BIDLS) in Massachusetts tracks, tests, and combats infectious disease. BIDLS educates people in Massachusetts regarding preventive measures to contain the spread of disease and improve the quality of life for state residents. BIDLS works to protect people from infectious disease by offering tracking, education, health information, laboratory testing, vaccines, and relaying data to relevant medical professionals, local/regional health departments, state agencies, hospitals, schools, community-based organizations, first responders, correctional facilities, and the masses.