Planned Parenthood in Fort Collins saw record-breaking numbers of students in its clinic last week getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, which officials attributed to an offer for $5 STD testing through the “Get Yourself Tested” campaign that is backed in part by MTV.
The testing offer resulted in more than 200 tests for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV at the Fort Collins clinic said Monica McCafferty, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. McCafferty said that normally the clinic issues an average of about five tests a week for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea or HIV, respectively.
“Hopefully this campaign brought awareness about STDs and encouraged young people to incorporate STD testing into their routines,” McCafferty said.
“Safe sex is being abstinent, safer sex is protecting yourself and your partner by being tested every time you are with a new partner,” she said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a report documenting a 33 percent increase of reported Chlamydia cases in 2007, and a rise in Gonorrhea cases from 2003 to 2007. The report said STD cases in Colorado mirrored those nationally.
The increases in STDs is of concern for college campuses because the report showed that ages 20 to 24 reported the most cases.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one in two sexually active people under age 25 have an STD.
McCafferty said that the alarming nature of the numbers reported prompted the campaign.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to offer a low cost service,” she said
The $5 offer, which was only valid last Monday and Wednesday, was part of the Get Yourself Tested ’09 campaign, a partnership between Planned Parenthood, MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation whose goal was to normalize testing for STDs, raise awareness, and get people talking about healthy relationships, McCafferty said.
Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Choice, a group of CSU student volunteers in the process of becoming a student organization, passed out condoms and cards detailing the testing offer on campus Monday and Wednesday.
“We got some questions,” said Sam Dean, a representative for Advocates for Choice, adding that the group’s presence received mixed results.
“It’s a touchy subject. . Some people were really excited and some people really tried to avoid us once they understood what we were doing,” said Dean, a sophomore human development major.
Deb Morris, a health educator at the CSU Heath Center, said that 75 percent of CSU students are sexually active.
“If students are sexually active, they should be having health care follow up,” Morris said.
Dean said that although the campaign was marketed to young people, testing is always beneficial.
“As far as a check for their health, there’s no age limit on that,” she said.
Staff reporter Erin Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.