Last week, Planned Parenthood celebrated half a million real-time conversations on sexual and reproductive health as part of Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program, which allows young people to live-chat with a trained health educator from a cell phone or computer.
A recent conversation shows how the service helps young people get accurate information in times of anxiety and encourages them to make a plan to protect their health:
Jack: Hi, welcome. My name is Jack. What's yours?
Chat: Hey Jack, my names Amy.*
Jack: It's great that you have taken this step to contact Planned Parenthood, Amy. How may I help you?
Chat: Thanks, not going to lie I'm quite nervous. I've recently had sex without protection, my discharge has changed ever since, best thing for to do is to come in and get checked for stds right?
Jack: Yes, that would be the best way to get an accurate diagnosis of your change in discharge. Your doctor, a nurse, or the staff at the Mitchell Street Health Center can help you with that. Here's their address and phone number:
Chat: This would be my first visit, ever. So I'm not sure what exactly is going to happen
Jack: Be honest with the doctor or nurse about your sexual history and what risks you've taken, and the two of you can decide which tests are appropriate.
Chat: Will do. Thanks for your help and time Jack.
Jack: You're welcome, Amy! You may also find it helpful to know that you can get tested for some STDs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, as soon as a few days after unprotected sex. Other STDs can take longer to show up. It can take up to three months for HIV to show up on a test.
Jack: Many people who have questions about STD testing would also like information about how to practice safer sex. Practicing safer sex can help to greatly reduce the possibility of STD transmission. Would you like more information about that?
Chat: No I'm good, I did some reading about having safer sex on this website before chatting with you, but thank you.
Jack: You're very welcome. Just to make sure I’ve been as helpful to you as possible, can you tell me what you plan to do about your situation after this chat?
Chat: I just called in to make an appointment. Only thing available isn't until Thursday so the lady said I have to call tomorrow morning at 7am and see if they could get me in then
Jack: It's great that you're already taking next steps, Amy! Before we finish up, can you tell me if you found this chat helpful today?
Chat: Yes it did, I've been very nervous and scared just thinking about going in but chatting with you helped me realize I shouldn't be
Jack: Great! Thank you for chatting with Planned Parenthood. Save this link to our chat page in case you have more questions in the future and want to chat with us again.
Nearly 40 percent of all teens aged 14 to 17 are using digital technologies to seek out health-related information, including information on sexual health.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s innovative Chat/Text program was launched in September 2010 and allows young people to correspond with trained staff with urgent questions about their sexual and reproductive health, including birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections using text messaging or instant messaging. The program offers young people accurate and nonjudgmental information, and is available at www.plannedparenthood.org/chat or by text at 774636.
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2013 showed that, in its first year, the program was able to successfully reach young people with critical information about sex and health in moments of intense worry when they were in need of fast, confidential help. The program was shown to be successful in reducing worry, particularly among teens aged 17 and younger and Latino users. To date, the program has had more than 500,000 conversations, and is currently undergoing a rigorous evaluation to further assess its impact on users.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
December 21, 2015