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Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Works to Keep Young People Healthy During STD Awareness Month

PPRM joins MTV, the CDC and the Kaiser Family Foundation to Urge Young People to GYT: Get Yourself Tested

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Monica McCafferty
303.813.7732
720.475.0289


Published: 04.11.11| Updated: 04.11.11


DENVER— To help reduce the alarming rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among young people in the U.S., Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is joining with MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to encourage youth to GYT — Get Yourself Tested — during National STD Awareness Month in April. 

As many as one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD by age 25 — and most won’t know it.  Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea increased year-to-year from 2003-2008 (the most recent year data is available).  In 2008, Colorado ranked 21st highest in the U.S. in cumulative reported HIV cases. The state also ranked 23rd in chlamydia infections and ranked 29th in gonorrheal infections.  While many people think of STDs as a “city problem,” a 2007 report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that the Denver Metro Area, including: Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson Counties, had a chlamydia infection rate of 395.9 per 100,000 populations; while the more rural counties of the state had an infection rate of 350.2 per 100,000 populations, not that much smaller than in the city.

This year, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains will offer $10 STD testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia and $10 Rapid HIV testing at most of its health centers on April 26 and 29.  Alternative testing dates will be made available at certain locations to accommodate hours of operation.  Additionally, GYT will officially kickoff in Denver on April 20 with a concert hosted by Planned Parenthood at 3 Kings Tavern featuring the pop/acoustic ensemble, Anne Wilson.  Planned Parenthood will also mark the month by conducting outreach on college campuses and engaging people through its social networks.

The award-winning GYT campaign is focusing this year on getting sexually active Americans under age 25 to embrace STD testing as part of a healthy, productive life. According to the CDC, this age group represents half of the estimated 19 million sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year. When left untreated, STDs can increase the risk of HIV infection, infertility and cancer.

Data collected from 10 Planned Parenthood affiliates show that STD testing has increased sharply since the launch of GYT in 2008. From 2008 to 2010, the number of patients tested in those 10 affiliates’ two dozen health centers rose by an average of 71–72 percent among women and 65 percent among men. Nationally, Planned Parenthood has achieved especially large increases in the populations most affected by STDs, including African Americans and people living at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. While GYT’s impact can’t be measured precisely, the evidence to date suggests that the campaign is motivating young people to get out and get tested.

“GYT is a great opportunity for us to remind young people that they’re not immune to STDs. In 2010, PPRM conducted nearly 2,500 STD tests during the GYT campaign, opening up conversations about safe sex between sexual partners and with medical professionals,” said Amy Dickson, vice president of clinical operations for PPRM.

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. Some other elements of this year’s campaign include:

  • “MTV’s Top 10 Most Outrageous Sex Myths” — GYT sets the record straight on many of the most common myths about STDs and other sexual health issues in a countdown show featuring artists such as Ludacris and Travie McCoy, as well as talent from MTV shows, including Vinny from the Jersey Shore, Catelynn from Teen Mom, Kailyn from Teen Mom 2, Kevin Manno, host of the The Seven, 10 on Top host Lenay Dunn, and more. Additionally, sexual health and relationship expert Dr. Logan Levkoff will weigh in on the special.
  • “Team GYT” — Rap visionary Talib Kweli, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, America’s Best Dance Crew’s Jungle Boogie, professional street skateboarder Stevie Williams, head of Thehundreds.com — Bobby Hundreds, Paper Twins’ artists Nica and Edgar A. English, aspiring fashion-conscious entrepreneur Allie Bashuk, surf-loving San Franpsycho, San Francisco designer/painter/artist Ube Urban, Levi Maestro of the online show Maestro Knows, Buff Monster, designer Han Cholo, and DJ A-Trak are joining forces to carry the GYT message. “Team GYT” will appear in GYT TV spots, guest blog on ACT.MTV.com, and reinforce STD prevention and testing as part of healthy lifestyle.
  • GYT on Tour — GYT partners with the “Take Action Tour” to bring the campaign to 50 cities nationwide starting April 22 in Boston, MA. Each city will host a concert with headliners Silverstein and Bayside, and Polar Bear Club, The Swellers, and Texas in July supporting. All proceeds from the tour, organized by Hopeless Records’ nonprofit organization Sub City, will go to SEX, ETC, a program of Rutgers University. Additionally, at select locations, GYT and Planned Parenthood will partner with local organizations to offer free or low-cost testing to concert attendees.
  • GYT PSAs — a new series of TV spots will roll out on several MTV channels encouraging viewers to GYT and drive to online and mobile resources for more information, including local testing services. View the PSAs at GYTNOW.org.
  • www.GYTNOW.org — The informational hub of the campaign, GYTNOW.org provides basic facts about STDs, including prevention and testing, talking tips for discussing STD testing with partners, parents and health care providers, and a testing center locator. The site also hosts an online community tool kit with promotional materials that can be customized and localized to help spread the GYT message. In this online gallery, the audience can flex their creativity and make “GYT” their own by uploading personalized GYT designs. Beyond the wide range of GYT-based content available on the site, fans can also 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. Online, users can become eligible to win a trip for two to the 2011 MTV Movie Awards by entering their zip code in the testing location finder at GYTNOW.org during the month of April.
  • GYT Nation — An extensive on-the-ground outreach effort is taking GYT to communities across the country. GYT promotional materials, including T-shirts, posters, buttons, brochures, and stickers are being distributed to more than 5,000 health centers and organizations nationwide, including Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 800 health centers.    

GYT is supported by a broad range of organizations including the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), American College Health Association (ACHA), American Social Health Association (ASHA), and various state and local health departments, colleges and universities, and other community groups and nonprofits.

For more information visit www.GYTNOW.org.  

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Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains empowers individuals and families in the communities we serve to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health by providing high quality health services, comprehensive sex education, and strategic advocacy.  More than 123,000 women, men, and young adults annually visit our 28 health centers throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Southern Nevada, and Wyoming.  Since 1916, we have been the region’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care.  For more information about Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, call 1.800.230.PLAN or visit pprm.org for the health center nearest you.

MTV is the dynamic, vibrant experiment at the intersection of music, creativity and youth culture. For over 28 years, MTV has evolved, challenged the norm, and detonated boundaries — giving each new generation a creative outlet and voice that entertains, informs and unites on every platform and screen. On-air, MTV is the number one rated full-day ad-supported cable network for P12-24. Online, MTV.com averaged 24.6 million monthly unique visitors during the first quarter of 2010 — up +9% from Q4/2009 and up +13% year-over-year. Average video streams for the first quarter of 2010 increased +19% from the Q4/2009 and is up +18% over the same time period last year. And MTV’s successful sibling networks MTV2 and mtvU each deliver unprecedented customized content, super-serving young males, music fans, and college students like no one else. MTV is part of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. Wanna know more? Come on in… www.mtvpress.com

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit private operating foundation, based in Menlo Park, California, dedicated to producing and communicating the best possible information, research and analysis on health issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations. For more information about CDC and its programs, visit http://www.cdc.gov.

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