New York, NY – For National STD Awareness Month (April), Planned Parenthood is encouraging young people to GYT: Get Yourself Tested. GYT is a national campaign that encourages young people to take control of their sexual health by promoting regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and STD awareness as part of a smart, empowered sex life.
STDs impact young people the most: half of all STDs are in people under 25, even though they represent only a quarter of people having sex. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis all increased in the U.S. in 2014. Chlamydia cases reached the highest number ever reported to the CDC.
“Everyone deserves a sex life that is safe and healthy as well as pleasurable. Getting comfortable talking about STD testing and using protection is a good way to take care of your health and your partner’s,” said Dr. Leslie Kantor, vice president of education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Knowing your status is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and take control of your sex life — and it’s easier than ever before.”
STD tests are generally quick, simple, and painless. For example, rapid HIV tests can provide results in as fast as 20 minutes from just a swab inside the mouth. Getting tested is also entirely confidential. Not all medical checkups include STD testing — so unless you ask to be tested, you can’t assume you have been. Many STDs have no symptoms, so the only way to know your status is by getting tested.
Throughout the month of April, Planned Parenthood health centers and youth groups will hold outreach and education events across the country, and Planned Parenthood social media will share GYT messages aimed at increasing awareness of STDs among young people and linking them to testing services.
“Planned Parenthood is here to help you stay safe and healthy, and we’re proud to be part of the GYT campaign each year,” Dr. Kantor continued. “STD prevention is a core part of our health services and education efforts --- Planned Parenthood health centers offer STD testing, treatment, and education to help you take charge of your sexual health.”
The good news is that all STDs, even HIV, are treatable, and many are curable. The sooner you know your status, the better you can protect your health and the health of your partner(s). Early treatment can help prevent serious, lifelong health problems that can result from untreated STDs.
Planned Parenthood believes that every person needs access to quality health care, resources, and information so they can stay healthy and reach their fullest potential --- and we work every day to achieve health equity for all. We know that your health shouldn’t depend on who you are or where you live.
In the U.S, certain communities have an increased need for resources and health care to address the impact of STDs:
- Young people aged 15–24 make up the largest percentage of HIV infections in the U.S., as well as 70% of gonorrhea infections and 66% of chlamydia cases.
- STDs are particularly prevalent in the southern United States According to the CDC, adults and adolescents in the South are disproportionately infected with HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. And in states like Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, newly diagnosed AIDS cases are 14 to 17 times higher for black women than they are for white women.
- Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men accounted for 63 percent of the new HIV infections in 2010. In 2014, men who have sex with men accounted 83 percent of male syphilis cases.
- In February of this year, the CDC released the first study of its kind estimating lifetime HIV risk based on race. It found that half of gay and bisexual black men and a quarter of gay and bisexual Hispanic men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes.
- In the U.S., there are more than 250,000 Latinos living with HIV/AIDS. Latinos account for 21 percent of new HIV infections and contract HIV at more than twice the rate of whites. They’re also twice as likely to get chlamydia and gonorrhea than their white counterparts.
- African Americans are among the most affected by HIV in our country, with an estimated 1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women who will be diagnosed with HIV infection in their lifetime. African American women are 5.7 times more likely than white women to get chlamydia, and 10.7 times more likely to get gonorrhea.
- American Indians/Alaska Natives in the United States are 4.2 times more likely to get gonorrhea and 3.7 times more likely than whites to get chlamydia.
These high rates of STDs arise in part from the lack of access to quality and affordable health care and resources for all in the U.S., due to social and economic barriers which contribute to health inequities.
Planned Parenthood provides education and outreach programs in schools and communities to approximately 1.5 million people a year — including sex education, peer education, parent and family workshops, and support groups for LGBTQ teens. Planned Parenthood believes that everyone deserves access to affordable, quality health care, and our doors are open to everyone.
In 2014, Planned Parenthood health centers provided 4.2 million STD tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. And in 2014, Planned Parenthood served a higher percentage of male patients than ever before — primarily for STD testing. To find a Planned Parenthood health center near you, or to find more information about STDs, visit plannedparenthood.org.
The annual GYT campaign encourages young people to get tested and to know the facts about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and promotes STD testing among young people as a basic and empowering part of sexual health. GYT is a collaborative effort of the American College Health Association (ACHA), the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), MTV, National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), with technical consultation provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. GYT provides young people with information, education, and resources they need to take control of their sexual and reproductive health. Research suggests that the campaign successfully increased STD testing in this age group, including a 71 percent increase in testing at Planned Parenthood affiliates from 2008 to 2010.
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 over 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.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
April 12, 2016