Poverty and an ever widening wealth distribution gap are being cited as among the main reasons as to why North Carolina had the sixth highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the United States in 2018. That's a far worse ranking than in 2017, when the state had the eighth highest rate of STD.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal a total of 91,376 reported cases of STDs in a state with a population of 10.3 million. North Carolina is the ninth most populous state in the U.S. The state's population means there are 889 STD cases per 100,000 people, according to a study by Innerbody.com. This firm is one of the largest online medical and wellness testing guides.

CDC normally includes four diseases in the STD classification: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. In North Carolina in 2018, there were 66,553 reported cases of chlamydia, 23,725 cases of gonorrhea and 1,098 cases of syphilis. HIV cases weren’t reported by some cities and weren’t included in the Innerbody study.

On the other hand, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) said there were 1,218 new reported cases of HIV among those of ages 13 and older in the state. Its data also shows STD rates were higher among some “racial and ethnic groups,” which the department said might be caused by poverty and wealth distribution gaps.

“People who cannot afford basic needs may also have trouble accessing quality sexual health services, and may have had experiences with the health system that discourage the accessing of testing and care,” a statement from NCDHHS said.

The department found that for each person diagnosed with an STD in 2018, the proportion of people living below the poverty line in their census tract (or area in which they live) were more likely to be diagnosed with an STD.

In general, of the 10 States with the highest rates of STDs, seven are in the South. This might be due to the region’s lack of access to affordable health care, according to the study.

“The South has more people living in poverty and in rural areas, which may make it harder for them to get tested and treated for STDs,” Ronald Gray, professor of epidemiology at John Hopkins University, who was part of the study, said.

218,710 cases of chlamydia were recorded in 2017 with young women making up a majority of cases. Viliman Viliman/Unsplash