April is STD Awareness Month
The fifth annual GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign kicks off this month (National STD Awareness Month) with online and on-the-ground initiatives across the country. Here in the Capital Region, students at the University at Albany, Russell Sage College, RPI and St. Rose are all planning activities to promote safer sex and STD testing. GYT is a national campaign designed to promote sexual health and address the high rates of STIs among those under 25.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that sexually transmitted infections are on the rise in the United States, especially among young people. There are now about 20 million new infections in the United States each year, half among the under 25 age group - even though they represent only 25 percent of the sexually experienced population.
"Getting tested is simply a basic part of staying healthy and taking control of your sex life. Many STIs cause no symptoms, so the only way to know your status for sure is to get tested," said Christine Pluviose, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood Vice President of Patient Services. "We know that when not treated, STIs can increase the risk of infertility and cervical cancer - but that virtually all STIs, including HIV, are treatable and many are curable. The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can get treated."
During the month of April, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood will be tabling in the downstairs lobby of 855 Central Avenue, where UHPP shares facility space with Mildred Elley and Austin's Beauty School of Spa Technology, providing information on getting tested. Students will be staffing tables with information about safer sex practices and available STD testing services on April 11, 17, and 18.
Already earlier this month, Russell Sage students staffed information tables on their campus, and later this month they are holding a sex trivia game night as well. The University at Albany VOX: Voices of Planned Parenthood group will be tabling in the lecture center halls on April 18 and have plans for a GYT trivia game and a screening of the film, "I'm Positive." which will include GYT trivia. RPI and St Rose students are also doing information tabling.
During last year's GYT campaign, Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide tested over 332,000 men and women and Planned Parenthood affiliates held nearly 300 events reaching over 14,000 people. Planned Parenthood centers offer low-cost STD testing throughout the year, and their doors are open to everyone.
As part of the effort to create the healthiest generation ever, Planned Parenthood works every day to reduce the U.S.'s high rates of sexually transmitted infections through education, testing, and treatment. Every year, Planned Parenthood health centers provide nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
The award-winning GYT campaign focuses on getting sexually active Americans under age 25 to embrace STI testing as part of a healthy, productive life. Launched in 2009 by a partnership between MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the CDC, it is supported by a broad range of organizations, state and local health departments, colleges and universities, and other community groups and non-profits. GYT public service messages air throughout the year on MTV channels with cross promotions with health centers and community organizations. Extensive information resources, including a dedicated website (www.GYTnow.org), provide information about common STIs, talking tips, and a zip code locator to find local testing locations.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization serving Albany, Columbia, Greene and Rensselaer counties. Each year, more than 13,000 patients make over 20,000 visits to UHPP health centers in Albany, Hudson and Troy. UHPP provides a wide range of reproductive health services including annual GYN exams including PAP tests, breast exams and self exam instruction, colposcopy, cryosurgery and LEEP, birth control information and supplies, Emergency Contraception, pregnancy testing and options counseling, first trimester abortion (medication and surgical), adoption and prenatal referrals, and more. UHPP provides educational programs to more than 5,000 participants at more than 500 programs each year and advocates for women's health.