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Gonorrhea in North Carolina, 1980-2003

Additional Information

HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch

Gonorrhea rates, like those for other sexually transmitted diseases, have varied over time in North Carolina based on several factors. Undiagnosed and untreated cases can result in continued transmission of infection and subsequent increases in disease rates. Elevated rates of gonorrhea infection are often correlated with poverty level and access to health care and preventive services. Disease rates can also be impacted by disease patterns in surrounding states. Additionally, disease rates can fluctuate with changes in reporting patterns by health care providers.

The target for Healthy People 2010 Objective 25-2, Reduce Gonorrhea is 19 cases per 100,000 population. A baseline of 123 new cases per 100,000 in 1997 was used to help set the target for this objective.

Technical Note

The animated maps showing the incidence of gonorrhea in North Carolina over a twenty-year period are based on the concept of moving averages. Moving averages have the effect of "smoothing" random fluctuations in annual incidence rates due to small numbers of cases and small county populations generating them. They are useful for showing general trends of rates over a period of time.
The moving average rates for the animated map were calculated by summing the number of cases from the current year, the two previous years and the next two years. The same process was used for state and individual county populations. The case sum was divided by the population sum and then multiplied by 100,000 to yield a five-year average incidence rate per 100,000 population. For more information about rates and their calculation please refer to the glossary. The results of these calculations are shown in the accompanying table. These rates are also depicted as part of the dynamic legend in the animated map. All rates for the maximum county column are based on twenty or more cases.

The rate classification scheme shown in the time series maps is based on equal numbers of counties in each of the four rate classes at the initial time period, labeled 1982. The values that demarcate the boundary between any two of the classes are held constant throughout the progression of maps. Over time, one can see that individual rate classes will shrink or expand with respect to the number of counties that they contain.

Incidence of Gonorrhea per 100,000 Population
Year US Annual1 NC Annual2 NC 5-Yr Ave.3 NC Max. 5-Yr Ave. County4
1980 445.1 708.8 - -
1981 435.2 702.3 - -
1982 417.9 728.3 678.6 1672.1
1983 387.6 649.0 662.0 1790.2
1984 374.8 607.5 641.8 1773.8
1985 384.8 626.1 595.8 1700.8
1986 372.8 601.5 556.5 1595.9
1987 323.6 498.9 529.1 1469.9
1988 300.3 453.8 504.8 1417.5
1989 297.1 470.8 494.1 1466.5
1990 277.4 501.8 470.9 1464.0
1991 246.7 543.5 448.8 1500.8
1992 197.2 385.5 436.5 1539.2
1993 172.5 347.9 402.6 1476.7
1994 167.7 409.5 343.9 1322.2
1995 149.4 333.0 311.9 1239.9
1996 123.8 248.9 293.3 1161.3
1997 122.4 227.2 263.0 1067.9
1998 131.9 254.6 235.6 952.7
1999 132.3 244.4 227.6 940.8
2000 129.0 222.7 219.9 970.1
2001 128.5 203.9 206.2 887.0
2002 125.0 184.5 - -
2003 - 181.3 - -

1. Data from Division of STD Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2002. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), September 2003.

2. Data from N.C. Division of Public Health, HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch

3. Five-year moving average calculated by 5-year sum of Gonorrhea cases ÷ 5-year sum of population × 100,000

4. The highest individual county 5-year average rate for the year - these rates are based on 20 or more cases