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Sexually Transmitted Infections

Alabama’s #6 Health Indicator

STIs are ranked sixth in priority for Alabama’s health indicators. Reproductive health is the focal point for interventions involving sexual safety, maternal health, and child health. Many STIs have mandatory reporting requirements in Alabama, which allows ADPH to investigate areas within the state with high rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and syphilis. STIs are spread through sexual contact and bodily fluids. Condom use and communication with partners about possible exposures are highly recommended to prevent the spread of STIs (ADPH Division of STD Prevention and Control).

The number of new HIV infections continues to outweigh the number of deaths among people diagnosed with HIV, largely due to the success and widespread utilization of highly active antiretroviral therapy in 1995. About 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. In 2019, 15.2 percent of new HIV diagnoses were in the south. There were 635 newly diagnosed HIV infections reported among Alabama residents in 2019. CDC estimated that 13 percent of persons infected with HIV in the U.S. were unaware of their status (CDC STIs and HIV Fact Sheet). Applying this knowledge to the 2019 state prevalence, estimates suggest an additional 2,517 Alabama residents may be infected with HIV and are unaware of their status.

It is important for anyone engaging in sexual activity to get tested frequently to protect their own and their partners’ health. Vaccinations for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) are good primary preventions.

Disproportionately Affected Populations

Pregnant women can become infected with STIs and should get a screening during their routine medical care. A positive screening can pose a serious risk to their pregnancy, and the baby may become infected while pregnant. Syphilis during pregnancy is increasing across the U.S., and can cause miscarriage, prematurity, low birth weight, and severe anemia. CDC recommends all expecting mothers to be tested for all STIs by the first prenatal visit. If positive, health practitioners can recommend a safe form of treatment for their patients.

Individuals who have multiple partners and people who identify as LGBTQ+ have an increased risk of having an STI, so CDC recommends getting screened once a year (CDC STIs and HIV Fact Sheet).

Geographic Variation

STIs can occur anywhere there is bodily fluid exchange. Stigma and poor sexual education are the primary reasons for high transmission post infection. Areas with high STI rates are near urban centers and within populations experiencing limited access to clinical treatments.

Alabama STI Highlights

Data are retrieved from the ADPH Office of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and the Office of HIV Prevention and Care: 

  • STI rates have been increasing every year, especially in person ages 15-24 years old.
  • AA/black individuals were nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white individuals.

Health Indicators

Alabamians identified STIs as the sixth greatest current health concern in Alabama. The following indicators have been selected for use in developing a benchmark or starting point for measuring the current state and monitoring future changes with regards to STIs in Alabama:


Page last updated: July 23, 2024