Objective:: To describe demographic and geographic trends in gonorrhea incidence in the United States from 1981 through 1996.
Study Design:: We analyzed aggregate gonorrhea cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the 50 states, District of Columbia, and 63 large cities. Annual incidence rates (cases/100,000 persons) were calculated.
Results:: Between 1981 and 1996, the incidence of reported gonorrhea decreased 71.3%, from 431.5 to 124.0 cases/100,000. However, rates among blacks were 35 times higher than rates among whites in 1996 (684.6 versus 19.4) compared with 11 times higher in 1981 (1,894.3 versus 164.3). Among women of all races, 15 to 19 year olds had the highest rates (716.6 in 1996), whereas among men, 20 to 24 year olds had the highest rates (512.9 in 1996). Southern states had higher rates than other regions.
Conclusions:: Large segments of the population, including adolescents, young adults, and blacks, continue to have high rates of gonococcal infection; prevention programs and health care providers should address the needs of these groups.