One in Two Sexually Active Youth Will Contract an STD by Age 25 — Get Yourself Tested
April is National STD Awareness Month and with it, the award-winning campaign, GYT: Get Yourself Tested has launched for another year.
GYT was launched by MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation and with the support of Centers for Disease Control, Planned Parenthood and others nationwide to raise awareness and spread life-saving information in response to the rate of sexually transmitted infections among youth today in the US. According to the CDC, as many as one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD by age 25 and what’s really scary, is that most won’t know that they have been infected. It is said that sexually active people under the age of 25 represent half of the estimated 19 million STD cases occurring every year in the United States. GYT aims to give youth the information and materials needed to start speaking openly about sexual health and getting tested.
Kevin Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention said:
A lack of information, misconceptions and social stigma keep many people from getting tested. Others mistakenly think they have been tested as part of routine health care. Since many STDs have no symptoms, most of those who are infected do not know it. The only way to know for sure is to be tested.
It’s true that there is social stigma surrounding the topic of STDs–from talking about them to actually getting tested, and the most when it comes to actually having an STD and people’s refusal to talk about it not only keep that stigma in place, but surrounds those who do live with STDs in a thick cloak of shame. Towards the end of March I read an article on Feministing from Professor Foxy, the sex educator columnist on the site, answering a question asked by a 22 year old woman who had contracted genital herpes, about how this woman could start to stop hating herself, to stop crying all the time about her STD and how to fully inhabit her body instead of feeling “divorced” from it. While this woman had always been positive about her self-proclaimed “checkered sexual past” and never had any guilt or shame about her promiscuity, but since contracting genital herpes, she hated her body and the way she looked, actually saying that while she used to think she was cute, being cute got her diseased. Not talking about STDs significantly contributes to the rising percentage of STDs contracted every year and keeps those who have an STD firmly in a closeted space and frame of mind, feeling alone even though they are the furthest from actually being alone.
The GYT initiative will include on-air promotions that will be placed throughout MTV programming and will feature celebrities including Keri Hilson, Perez Hilton, Debi Nova, Emily VanCamp and others. It will also include online promotions and an on-the-ground outreach effort that will rise in over 4,000 health centers nationwide, including Planned Parenthood’s 840 health centers and will contain promotional materials, including t-shirts, posters, buttons and stickers. The CDC is working with state and local health departments, the American Social Health Association, National Coalition of STD Directors and the American College Health Association to spread information about the campaign.
To get involved in this social movement, GYTNow.org is providing a community toolkit containing promotional materials that can be customized and localized to make it easy for you, the person who wants to start talking about STDs and encourage your peers to get tested, to spread the word to people around your community.
You can also locate your nearest Planned Parenthood clinic and make an appointment to get tested now!