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Infection Control & Disease Prevention

Monongalia Co. ranked first in health in West Virginia; STI rates high

Monongalia Co. ranked first in health in West Virginia; STI rates high

Apr. 20, 2023

Monongalia Co. ranked healthiest in West Virginia; STI rates high

MORGANTOWN, WV (Apr. 20, 2023) — According to the latest annual

report from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R), Monongalia County is the healthiest in West Virginia. Monongalia County outperforms the state average for nearly every health category and even surpasses the national average in several categories.

One of the standout areas for Monongalia County is its premature death rate, which is lower than the state and national averages. Monongalia County has a premature death rate of 6,400 years of potential life lost per 100,000 population, significantly better than the state and national averages of 11,300 and 7,300 years of potential life lost per 100,000 population, respectively.

The county also boasts high clinical care scores, with a high percentage of adults with access to health care and a low ratio of population to primary care physicians. This is likely due to the location in Morgantown of one of the state’s major hospitals, J.W. Ruby Memorial, as well as Mon Health Medical Center.

The report also sheds light on many of Monongalia County’s successes, such as low incidences of alcohol-impaired driving deaths and low rates of teen births.

However, Monongalia County has a relatively high rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), with 507.5 new cases of chlamydia diagnosed per 100,000 people. The state and national averages are 303 and 481.3 newly diagnosed cases per 100,000 people, respectively. This indicates a need for continued efforts to address this issue and promote sexual health education and access to health-care services.

“It’s very easy to blame college kids for high STI rates,” said Dr. Lee B. Smith, health officer at Monongalia County Health Department. “But while we do see some in college, we also see a lot of transmission rates in other demographics.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men are among the most at-risk individuals for STIs and HIV. Monongalia County Health Department works to combat STI transmission among these groups by offering free testing and treatment to all patients.

“We have free testing that is anonymous to the participant that includes all of the STIs, from syphilis to chlamydia,” Dr. Smith said. “If they need testing or need advice, they can always come into the health department.”

The report also provides information on social and economic factors that impact health outcomes, such as uninsured rates, high school completion rates and children in poverty. These factors play a large part in public health in Monongalia County.

“We’ve done very well the last three years, being the highest rated in the county. But I want to focus on the multiple factors that make up that ranking,” Dr. Smith said. “Public health has the ability to impact some of them, but not all of them.”

Monongalia County performs better than the state and national averages in almost all categories of social and economic factors. The county has higher rates of high school completion and some college, and lower rates of unemployment and children in poverty.

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, has released this comprehensive report on the health status of counties in all 50 states, including Monongalia County. The report, which analyzes data from various sources, highlights the strengths and areas of improvement for each county.

The full report, which has been updated every year since 2010, is available on the CHR&R website at

“This makes three years of Monongalia County being at the top of the health rankings, and that is worth celebrating,” Dr. Smith said. “But there is still more we can do to make this even better in the future, and we are going to continue to work hard.”





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