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STD Health Equity

photo montage of men and women

Health equity is when everyone has an equal chance to be healthy regardless of their background. This includes a person’s race, ethnicity, income, gender, religion, sexual identity, and disability.1

Research shows that there are higher rates of STDs among some racial or ethnic minority groups compared to whites.2.3 It is important to understand that these higher rates are not caused by color or heritage, but by social conditions that are more likely to affect minorities. Factors such as poverty, large gaps between the rich and the poor, few jobs, and low education levels can make it more difficult for people to stay sexually healthy.4

  • People who cannot afford basic needs may have trouble accessing quality sexual health services.5
  • Many racial/ethnic minorities may distrust the health care system, fearing discrimination from doctors and other health care providers.6 This could create negative feelings around getting tested and treated for STDs.
  • In communities with higher STD rates, sexually active people may be more likely to get an STD because they have greater odds of selecting a partner who is infected.7,8

Learning more about STDs and health equity is a first step in empowering affected communities and those who serve them.


Webinar: Community Approaches to Reducing Sexually Transmitted Diseases FOA - March 6th - View Recording and slides

Community Approaches to Reducing Sexually Transmitted Diseases (CARs) – New Funding Opportunity Announcement. For the CARS cooperative agreement, CDC will work with organizations to promote sexual health, advance community wellness, influence sexual health behavior and practices, and reduce STI disparities.

Data & Statistics

Fact Sheet – 10 Ways STDs Impact Women Differently from Men (April 1, 2011) Fact sheet explaining why women are disproportionately affected by STDs.

CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report. Analysis of trends in health disparities and inequalities for a range of health issues.

Reportable STDs in Young People 15-24 Years of Age, by State (January 11, 2013) Interactive data set providing county-level STD rates among youth.

Indian Health Surveillance - STDs (March 1, 2012) STD statistics and trends among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN).


Webcast: Community Engagement to Reduce STD Disparities among Vulnerable Communities An interactive course that provides participants with an introduction to community engagement and partnership for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV.

Native STAND Curriculum A peer educator curriculum adapted from STAND -- Students Together Against Negative Decisions -- designed to meet the needs of today's Native youth.

Health Disparities in HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs and Tuberculosis in the US: Issues, Burden and Response (July 9, 2013) Information and resources about health disparities in various communities.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Healthcare Disparities Report 2012 Report on disparities in health care delivery relating to race and socioeconomic status.

U.S. Surgeon General’s National Prevention Strategy Recommendations from the Surgeon General on health and wellbeing priority areas.

Kaiser Permanente Health Disparities Research Information on health disparities research and community impact.

Health Disparities Information and resources from CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity


1 The Community Guide: The Guide to Community Preventive Services. Community Preventive Services Task Force. (Page last updated: April 25, 2013)

2 Hogben M, Leichliter JS. Social determinants and sexually transmitted disease disparities. Sex Transm Dis. 2008;35(12 Suppl):S13-8.

3 Cunningham PJ, Cornelius LJ. Access to ambulatory care for American Indians and Alaska Natives; the relative importance of personal and community resources. Soc Sci Med. 1995:40(3): 393-407.

4 Gonzalez JS, Hendriksen ES, Collins EM, Duran RE, Safren SA. Latinos and HIV/AIDS: examining factors related to disparity and identifying opportunities for psychosocial intervention research. AIDS Behav. 2009:13:582-602.

5 Institute of Medicine. The Hidden Epidemic: Confronting Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1997.

6 Wiehe SE, Rosenman MB, Wang J, Katz BP, Fortenberry D. Chlamydia screening among young women: individual- and provider-level differences in testing. Pediatrics. 2011;127(2): e336-44.

7 Hogben M, Leichliter JS. Social determinants and sexually transmitted disease disparities. Sex Transm Dis. 2008;35(12 Suppl):S13-8.

8 Laumann EO, Youm Y. Racial/ethnic group differences in the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States: a network explanation. Sex Transm Dis. 1999;26(5):250-61.