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New York, NY — Today, entertainer and author Jonathan Van Ness debuted a new video encouraging people to take charge of their sexual health by getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and highlighting the need to protect people’s access to STI testing and treatment through Title X — the nation’s program for affordable sexual and reproductive health care.

Getting tested for STIs is an important part of staying on top of your sexual health and taking care of your body. There are still many myths and misunderstandings about STIs, which means many people don’t get the tests and treatment they need. The reality is that getting an STI or having a partner with an STI is extremely common, and having an STI is not something anyone should be shamed or judged for. All STIs, including HIV, are treatable, and many are curable. But you can’t get treatment if you don’t know your status, and the only way to know your status is to get tested. STI tests are generally quick, simple, painless — and completely confidential.

You can watch the video here.  

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“We’re grateful to Jonathan for lifting up the critical importance of STI testing and treatment, especially now, as the Trump administration’s attack on Title X puts access to basic preventive health care at risk for millions of people. Planned Parenthood is proud to be a leader in STI testing, treatment, education, and prevention efforts. We know firsthand how important it is for all people to have access to high-quality, nonjudgmental information and health care that empowers them to know their status and stay healthy and safe. We’ll never stop fighting to ensure that everyone can get the sexual health care they need and deserve.”

Statement from Jonathan Van Ness:

“Planned Parenthood provided me with access to STI testing when I didn’t have another affordable option and needed it most. I was able to get lifesaving referrals and access to medication that have ultimately enabled me to get to where I am today. Now more than ever, it’s important to show up for all the people who use Planned Parenthood's services, who have nowhere else to turn. Whether it’s providing safe, legal abortion, cancer screenings, or STI testing, Planned Parenthood is saving lives, while helping all Americans live informed, sexually-safe lives — no matter who they are or where they come from.‎"

The Title X program is meant to ensure that those struggling to make ends meet, or who don’t have health insurance, can still access birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and annual exams. Recently, through an unethical gag rule, the Trump administration forced Planned Parenthood and other health care providers out of Title X. Planned Parenthood has played an essential role in the Title X program since it was created nearly 50 years ago, and has been the program’s largest provider, serving 40 percent of all Title X patients.

Four million people across the country depend on Title X health centers — particularly people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, and people living in remote or rural communities. Many people may not realize they’re getting health care through Title X, and the gag rule leaves their health, rights, and lives hanging in the balance. Without Title X, many patients will lose access to free or low-cost basic health care such as STI testing and treatment, including HIV prevention, counseling, testing, and referrals for treatment.

Every Planned Parenthood health center offers STI prevention options, testing, treatment, education, and information, and each year, Planned Parenthood health centers provide more than 4.7 million STI tests and treatment, including more than 740,000 HIV tests. Many health centers offer HIV prevention tools like PrEP, a daily pill that can help prevent HIV, and PEP, a series of pills you can take after you’ve been exposed to HIV that lowers your chances of getting it.

As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood works in schools and communities across the country to provide education programs and outreach to 1.2 million people a year. We believe that all people deserve high-quality, affordable health care and accurate, nonjudgmental sexual and reproductive health information, no matter who they are, where they live, or where they’re from. Our doors are open to everyone.  

On Wednesday, Alexis McGill Johnson will be a guest on the "Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness" podcast.

You can learn more about how to protect Title X by texting TITLEX to 22422. For more information about STIs, or to make an appointment at a Planned Parenthood health center near you, visit plannedparenthood.org.   

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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 650 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.

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