CHICAGO, IL — Planned Parenthood of Illinois is proud to participate in a nationwide campaign with MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation and to officially unveil “GYT: Get Yourself Tested,” a campaign to increase testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among those under 25 years of age.
According to a recent STI report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, approximately 19 million women and men contract STIs, including HIV/AIDS. Reports have shown that Illinois is particularly at risk for STIs. In a 2005 CDC study, Illinois ranked 6th highest among the 50 states in number of reported AIDS cases. In a CDC study release this year, Illinois ranked 7th among 50 states in Syphilis and Chlamydia cases, and 11th out of 50 states in Gonorrhea cases.
“Most people would be shocked to hear that, by age 25, one in two sexually active people will have an STI. This is not just a statistic, but the reality of what Planned Parenthood health centers see every day,” said Planned Parenthood Illinois President & CEO, Steve Trombley. “The GYT campaign is a great opportunity for people to learn that affordable testing and treatment and education are the tools teens and young people need to stay healthy and safe.”
GYT kicks off with a mix of promotions on-air, online and on The Real World that will unfold throughout the month of April in recognition of National STI Awareness Month. The central hub of the campaign, GYT09.org, will provide comprehensive information about STIs and will direct users to the nearest testing location simply by entering a zip code. A mobile companion to GYT09.org, the GYT short code (49809), provides details about local testing locations to mobile phones by texting a zip code.
An all-star collective of pop culture personalities are carrying the GYT message far and wide, appearing in a series of attention-getting on-air and online promotions on MTV and other MTV Network properties this month; blasting out GYT on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms; wearing GYT on their chest and sleeves; and of course, going to get tested for STIs.
From OMG to LOL, acronyms saturate young people’s everyday vernacular, acting as common methods of communication. Playing off mobile and Web slang, GYT is an easy way for young people to talk about sexual health and getting tested for STIs. GYT will help young people internalize the risk of STIs and eliminate taboos and stigmas surrounding STIs and STI testing.
As part of GYT, Illinois youth will be directed to PPIL’s 19 participating health centers for comprehensive STI testing and treatment.
PPIL will also be hosting several viewing parties to see Pedro, an MTV movie based on the true story of Pedro Zamora, an HIV positive Cuban-American who was part of MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco. Zamora’s time on The Real World brought a face to the AIDS crisis; and U.S. President Bill Clinton credited Zamora with personalizing and humanizing those with the disease. The screening parties will provide an opportunity for Illinois youth to begin honest discussions about the realities of STIs, including HIV/AIDS.
To make an appointment to Get Yourself Tested at one of PPIL’s 19 health centers, visit www.ppil.org. For further information about the GYT campaign, visit www.gyt09.org.