Urging young people to GYT: Get Yourself Talking and Tested
In response to the staggering rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among youth in the Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) is working with MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to kick off National STD Awareness month with the return of the award-winning campaign, GYT: Get Yourself Tested.
As many as one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD by age 25 — and most won’t know it.
In Wisconsin, STD rates are exploding among teens. According to DHS, the combined rate of four sexual transmitted diseases (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and genital herpes) among teens aged 15-19 increased 53 percent between 1997 and 2007. Almost 20 percent of all new HIV cases in Wisconsin occur in young people ages 15-24.
GYT encourages young people age 25 and under to talk with health care providers and partners about getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to the CDC, this age group represents half of the estimated 19 million cases of STDs occurring in the United States each year. When left untreated, STDs can lead to an increased risk of HIV infection, infertility and cancer.
To help promote GYT, PPWI will offer free Chlamydia and HIV Rapid Test testing throughout the state at all PPWI health centers on Mondays in April. Everyone is eligible for free STD testing on a GYT day. To find the Planned Parenthood health center in your area, visit www.ppwi.org (note: if your local health center is closed on Mondays, free STD tests will be offered on Tuesday).
PPWI is supplementing free tests with an increased effort in its community education and public affairs departments to reach out to organizational partners in the religious, Latino, African American, LGBT, teen and college communities to inform young people about the importance of STD prevention and early detection. Without treatment, STDs can lead to serious short- and long-term health consequences, including infertility. Some sexually related infections, like HIV, can permanently jeopardize a person’s health.
In 2009, GYT helped fuel an increase in STD testing among of young people under the age of 25 at Planned Parenthood health centers statewide, resulting in a 145 percent increase in Chlamydia and HIV tests and a 285 percent increase in Gonorrhea tests administered at PPWI health centers over April 2008.
“The doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood hear from young patients all the time that talking about getting tested is truly difficult but such a relief once they get talking,” said PPWI president and CEO Teri Huyck. “We know that the GYT campaign works. In the first year of the campaign, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin saw an increase in testing and we are committed to increasing the number of young people who get tested again this year. The good news is that testing for many STDs is simple, it doesn’t hurt, often does not even involve needles.”
Playing off mobile and Web slang in young people’s everyday vernacular, such as “OMG” and “LOL,” GYT is an easy way for young people to talk about sexual health and getting tested for STDs. This year, GYT is rolling out a series of new initiatives on-air, online, and on the ground at college campuses and in more than 4,000 health centers and clinics across the nation, including
- Celebs Talk GYT — In a series of on-air and online promotions, celebrities including Keri Hilson, Debi Nova, Emily VanCamp of Brothers and Sisters, Iyaz, and more join the campaign’s cast of allstar pop culture personalities spreading the GYT message far and wide.
- GYT NOW Campus Challenge — To spur a social movement for students to start talking and to get tested on college campuses around the country, the “GYT NOW Campus Challenge” calls on young people to commit to getting tested by becoming a fan of GYT, and encouraging their peers to do the same. The campus with the largest percentage of their student network to join the GYT Campus Challenge will be featured in an MTV News special and highlighted on mtvU. Additionally, MTV will award each of the top 10 recruiters on the winning campus with an expense-paid trip for two and backstage passes to the Too Fast for Love Tour with Cobra Starship, Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes and others.
- GYT Nation — An extensive on-the-ground outreach effort is taking GYT to communities cross the country. GYT promotional materials, including T-shirts, posters, buttons, and stickers are being distributed to more than 4,000 health centers nationwide, including Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 840 health centers. The CDC is also working with state and local health departments, the American Social Health Association (ASHA) and the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) to get out information about the campaign. And, the American College Health Association (ACHA) has joined the GYT campaign to spread the word and distribute GYT materials through college health centers.
The campaign’s website, GYTNOW.org, provides a community tool kit with promotional materials that can be customized and localized for easy distribution. In this online gallery, the audience can flex their creativity and make “GYT” their own by uploading personalized GYT designs.
- www.GYTNOW.org — The central hub of the campaign, GYTNOW.org is a comprehensive information resource that includes facts about STDs; talking tips on how to discuss STD testing with partners, parents, and health care providers; and a testing location finder that connects users to local testing resources by simply entering a zip code. A wide range of GYT-based content, including all of the participating artists and celebrities, are also showcased on the site. Additionally, fans can connect to GYT via Facebook or Twitter.
- GYTNOW short code and MTV Movie Awards Sweepstakes — A mobile companion to GYTNOW.org, the GYT short code (498669) provides details about local testing locations to mobile phones by simply texting a zip code. Users of the service during the month of April will become eligible to win a trip for two to the 2009 MTV Movie Awards in LA. Users can also enter the sweepstakes online by using the testing location finder at GYTNOW.org.
- MTV News — MTV News Correspondent Sway Calloway goes inside a New York City college to talk to students about STD testing. The segment explores who is getting tested, who is not, and the reasons why young people don’t get tested. Dr. Michelle Cespedes, a doctor of infectious diseases at NYU, and Dr. Michelle Callahan, a relationship expert and on-air personality, will weigh in on the importance of knowing your status and offer young people tips on talking about STD testing with partners and doctors.
- mtvU Dean’s List — A freshman at the University of Hartford takes over as host for a new episode of mtvU’s Dean’s List. During this hourlong countdown of the music that’s making an impact on her campus, the audience will also follow as Kayla gets tested at a Planned Parenthood health center, dispels myths about STDs and testing, and talks to young people about why it’s important to GYT in college today.
- MTV’s “How To” Show — Iyaz and Debi Nova explore “how to talk to your partner about testing,” and “how to ask your doctor to be tested” in this short-form segment to live on GYTNOW.org.
GYT is supported by a broad range of organizations including the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), American College Health Association (ACHA), ASHA (American Social Health Association) and various state and local health departments, colleges and universities, and other community groups and nonprofits.
For more information visit www.GYTNOW.org.