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Health leaders react after study ranks Charlotte as one of the top cities for STIs



CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A recent study released by a research company is grabbing headlines for putting Charlotte near the top of the list in the country for sexually-transmitted infections, or STIs.

The findings which were released by Innerbody Research showed the Queen City has having the 13th highest rate of STIs in the United States. Greensboro and Columbia were other Carolina cities that rated higher on the list.

The numbers are getting some pushback from Mecklenburg County health leaders, who note that the findings may be more representative of the metropolitan area, which includes Gaston, Cabarrus, and York counties, those of just Charlotte and Mecklenburg County as a whole.

However, authorities said their own county numbers are still not good.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Dr. Raynard Washington, Mecklenburg County Health Director.

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Washington cited and noted numbers that came from both the Centers for Disease Control and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 

The findings, while preliminary for 2022, showed:

  • HIV rates from 2021 to 2022 went up from 278 to 293
  • Gonorrhea rates from 2021 to 2022 went down from 4,654 to 4,346
  • Chlamydia rates from 2021 to 2022 went up from 9,754 to 9,864
  • Early Syphilis rates from 2021 to 2022 went up from 721 to 746

The findings were also broken down, demographically, and disproportionately affected those who are African-American and in their twenties.

Some of these results do feed into a notion that many people in Charlotte have noted to Queen City News: that the dating scene is either heavily casual and/or transient, and that some of the reasons for the high numbers can be due to that–and any potential unwillingness or reservation about revealing a STI to a partner.

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One woman Queen City News spoke with, who is married, noted among her friends that dating–and therefore any potential for sexual activity — in the city seems to be “more intentional.” 

“It’s a little more siloed, not meeting someone out,” she said.

A single man told Queen City News there may be another reason for the numbers.

“Trust in health care,” he said.

Washington noted that attitudes about revealing or even getting an STI are still present, but noted there needs to be a change.

“It’s not about the ‘ick’ factor,” he said.  “It’s about keeping people healthy.  Especially with illnesses that can be spread to babies, it’s important that they get treated as quickly as possible.”

Queen City News reached out to Innerbody Research for more details on their findings and methodology but had not received a response as of the time this story was posted.

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