February 5, 2021 — Any time the subject of The Villages (TV) in Central Florida comes up in conversation, the chances are that someone will chime in with the tidbit that the popular active community is the STD capital of the US. In many circles this bit of false news is taken as the gospel. Everyone chuckles and they move on.
The rampant STD rumor about The Villages first erupted in 2006 after a gynecologist who had moved to the area stated that she’d treated more cases of herpes and human papillomavirus in The Villages than when she practiced in Miami. She later modified her account, but the damage was done. The New York Post picked up the salacious report as did other media outlets across the country. Andrew Blechman’s Leisureville, which depicted Mr. Midnight’s late night adventures as a senior citizen Lothario, also helped to perpetuate the image of TV as Gomorrah in Central Florida.
Since then many people, especially those who live in and/or promote The Villages, have done their best to set the record straight. While as in any county one can find cases of STDs, The Villages is in no way a top place for sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, looking at statistics from the Florida Department of Health, it is at the bottom for cases per 100,000 residents. In 2019 the State’s overall rate of infection for gonorrhea was 175 per 100,000 population. In Sumter County, where 80% of the population is from The Villages, the infection rate is 39. That contrasts with Leon County, home to the capitol and Florida State U., where the rate is 370. Similarly for rates of chlamydia, the overall rate for Florida is 525.5 while Leon County’s is 1147 and Sumter’s 157.
How about you? Had you heard the accounts of The Villages as the STD capital? Do you have any other pet urban legends that should be dispelled? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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