National Campaign with the Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood and Partners Triggers Youth Conversation, Helps Drive STD Testing
STD Testing Doubles at Many Planned Parenthood Clinics During April
New York, NY, June 1, 2009 — In recognition of National STD Awareness Month (April), MTV, leading pop-culture personalities, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its nationwide network of health centers, and other partners banded together for an aggressive public information campaign to promote testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among young Americans under age 25. Today, the partners announced several results which suggest that many young people across the country heard the call to GYT (“Get Yourself Tested”). In many Planned Parenthood health centers, for example, youth testing rates increased more than 50 percent during the month of April 2009 over the previous year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four teen girls in the U.S. have at least one common STD. Other estimates find that as many as one in two sexually-active young people will contract an STD by age 25 — and most won’t know it. In response to these facts, the GYT campaign, an extension of MTV and Kaiser’s Emmy and Peabody-winning “It’s Your (Sex) Life,” informs young people about STDs and promotes testing and treatment as needed. Since the launch of GYT on April 1, 2009, the call-to-action has been embraced by young people across the United States, as the campaign unfolded on-air, online, on mobile devices and in health centers.
Some positive results from the month of April include
- Planned Parenthood Health Systems in North Carolina and South Carolina experienced a more than 100 percent increase in clients (both male and female); in the St. Louis Region, Planned Parenthood reported a 100 percent increase in less-likely-to-test males, as well as a 61 percent increase in female clients.
- At campaign launch, “GYT” was one of the most-searched terms on Google, most-discussed videos on YouTube and also generated significant attention on Twitter. GYT-related videos have now been streamed over 400,000 times. Thousands continue to track and engage with the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
- Testing for gonorrhea among men and women increased in multiple markets. In fact, Planned Parenthood of Georgia experienced a 64 percent increase in the number of men tested for gonorrhea, while at a Planned Parenthood in South Central New York, the number of women tested for gonorrhea rose nearly 70 percent.
- At Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, the number of men tested for HIV more than doubled. Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis Region also experienced marked increases in male HIV tests, with a nearly 40 percent increase in the region. Planned Parenthood in Southwest and Central Florida, Indiana, Northern New York, and Southeastern Pennsylvania, to name a few, showed significant increases in the number of women tested for HIV. In fact, Planned Parenthood of Indiana, 45 percent more women were tested for HIV this April over last year.
- GYT09.org, the campaign’s Web hub, provided information to nearly 300,000 unique visitors during April, serving as a resource for facts about STDs; talking tips on how to discuss STD testing with partners and healthcare providers; and connecting young people to nearby testing centers and other resources. Tens of thousands of young people accessed local testing resources through GYT’s online and mobile tools.
- During just two days of $5 testing, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains conducted 2,754 chlamydia and gonorrhea tests, compared to the usual average of 156. Additionally, Planned Parenthood Association of Bucks County experienced a more than 60 percent increase in women tested for chlamydia, and at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, 51 percent more men were tested for both gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- An all-star collective of pop-culture personalities carried the GYT message far and wide, from Soulja Boy tweeting “WTF is GYT” to nearly 200,000 fans on Twitter to Perez Hilton’s GYT video generating over 1,000 comments. Flo Rida, The All-American Rejects, Asher Roth, N.E.R.D., Santigold, Joanna Garcia, Kid Sister, Chester French and Joy Bryant also promoted GYT via their social marketing networks, spreading the word and urging young people to GYT.
- GYT Community Kits were distributed to over 1,500 clinics, youth organizations, public health departments and other groups across the country to provide programming materials and resources for local efforts to encourage STD testing.
“The results speak for themselves. Young people around the nation heard the GYT message in April and went out to get tested,” said Stephen Friedman, GM of MTV. “GYT will continue to live as part of 'It’s Your (Sex) Life,' and as young people continue to carry the GYT banner forward so that eventually every sexually active person under the age of 25 gets tested for STDs.”
"We’re very encouraged by the early results of GYT, especially the marked increase in testing at the local clinics and health centers that participated in the effort,” said Tina Hoff, vice president and director, Entertainment Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Through more than 450 public outreach and education events across the country, Planned Parenthood GYT’s critical health care message reached more than 20,000 people,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “Combine that with the viral nature of the campaign and the early numbers our health centers are reporting and we know we’ve found an innovative tool to reach teens and young people in a way that they will listen, learn, and, then, make healthy choices.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the approximately 19 million new STDs (also referred to as sexually transmitted infections, or STIs) that occur every year in the U.S., about half are among those 15–24 years old. Since STDs often have no symptoms, most of those who are infected don’t know it. Lack of information, misconceptions and social stigma keep many people from getting tested. Others may mistakenly believe they have been tested as part of general health care. Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most commonly reported STDs, is easier than ever before with many clinics now offering urine-based tests. Rapid HIV tests can provide results in as little as 20 minutes with a swab inside the mouth. Diagnosis and treatment of STDs is critical to safeguarding personal health, fostering sexual responsibility and addressing the wider STD epidemic.
The GYT: “Get Yourself Tested,” campaign was launched to normalize and promote routine testing for STDs among Americans under age 25, with an emphasis on screening for two of the most common STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and also for HIV, the most serious STD. 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 STDs. GYT aims to help young people internalize the risk of STDs — as individuals and as a generation — seeking to eliminate taboos and stigmas surrounding STDs and STD testing. GYT will continue throughout 2009 as an extension of MTV and Kaiser’s Emmy and Peabody-winning “It’s Your (Sex) Life” partnership to promote responsible decision making about sex.
Since 1997, the Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV have partnered on an extensive, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning public information campaign on HIV/AIDS, other STDs and related sexual health issues. The partnership includes targeted public service advertisements (PSAs), entertainment and other special programming, news segments, and free resources, including an informational guide developed especially for the campaign, and an extensive website www.itsyoursexlife.com.
For more information on GYT, please visit www.GYT09.org.
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 more than 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.