This Region Has the Highest STD Rates in the Country Men's Health © Eivaisla/iStock/Getty ImagesHere’s how to protect yourself, no matter where you live A recent federal report on STDs reveals some alarming trends: First, STDs rates are soaring throughout the country. There were more reported cases of chlamydia in 2014 than ever before, and syphilis and gonorrhea rates are also surging. But when you look at the STD rates on a map, you’ll see that the diseases are particularly rampant in one region. The maps paint a similar picture for all three STDs. Here’s how gonorrhea maps out. (The darker the color, the higher the STD rate.) © Men's Health And chlamydia: © Men's Health And syphilis: © Men's Health What’s going on in the South? The region claims the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea, and the second-highest rate of syphilis (second to the West), according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It may come down to access to health care, a CDC spokesman says. 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, says Ronald Gray, M.D., a professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins. In fact, Southerners also have some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer in the country, says the CDC spokesman. People in the South should take the same steps as everyone else to reduce their risk for STDs, says Dr. Gray: Unless you’re in a long-term monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner, use a condom every time. (Check out this list of the best condoms for more pleasurable safe sex.) Get tested for STDs every time you change partners, Dr. Gray says. You can see your primary doctor, go to Planned Parenthood, or use an at-home kit to determine whether you’re in the clear. .