April is STD Awareness Month. Every year there are over 19 million new cases of STDs in the United States (CDC). Half of these new STD infections occur among young people ages 15 to 24 even though this age group makes up only 25% of the sexually active population. There are many negative outcomes of having an STD, including an increased risk for HIV infection.
One way to make a difference during STD Awareness Month is to promote messages provided by GYT: Get Yourself Tested. This sexual health campaign seeks to make testing for and talking about STDs routine among sexually active 15 – 25 year olds. Launched in 2009, the campaign is a multi-media, youth-focused campaign developed in response to the 2008 data that one in four teens has an STD (Forhan et al., 2009).
Since its launch, GYT has reached well over one million people. The GYT partnership team, which includes CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, MTV networks, the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, and Planned Parenthood of America, has worked diligently to make it easy for both youth and those that serve youth to get involved with the campaign.
Here how you can access GYT resources:
- Visit the campaign’s refreshed, updated website . From there, you can download customizable posters, button, t-shirts and more, share social media elements, and upload pictures and success stories.
- If you provide health services, visit the website’s provider-specific page . It contains resources and materials specifically for health care providers, such as guides on taking sexual histories and how to create a teen-friendly clinic.
- You can also promote information specific to Chlamydia using the Chlamydia-specific microsite . The interactive site answers frequently asked questions about Chlamydia.
- To stay updated with current GYT events and news, become a fan of the GYT Facebook page . The GYT Twitter account allows for further dissemination of messages, promotes resources, and provides an easy way for other to share or “re-tweet” GYT messages.
- A final aspect of the GYTNOW campaign is its short message service (SMS) texting code. By texting a zip code to GYTNOW (498669), users will receive the names and phone numbers of nearby STD/HIV testing centers.
We encourage everyone to get involved with GYT – youth, CBOs, health care providers, health departments – anyone who supports empowering youth with the information and tools they need to make good health decisions. It is easy to get involved with GYT!
For more information, go to www.gytnow.org.