Apr 232012
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Getting yourself tested is not just something your doctor awkwardly encourages you to do during the month of April — it’s a national campaign.

“We feel that it’s important to normalize conversations about sex,” said Monica McCafferty, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood. “We also recognize that these conversations can be difficult.”

But they’re conversations that MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Planned Parenthood Federation of America are teaming up to tell young people to have through the Get Yourself Tested campaign, which kicks off National STD Awareness Month.

“The facts are clear –– STDs are common, and the life-long impact of an untreated STD is real. But these don’t have to be accepted parts of life,” said Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s division of STD prevention, in a press release. “GYT provides the tools young people need to be proactive about their health.”

People ages 15 to 24 account for nearly half of all new STDs occurring in the U.S. And for the month of April, whether it’s online, in print or on TV, those same individuals are being told to visit their nearest health center to determine their STD status at a reduced price.

At the Fort Collins Planned Parenthood, for example, lab fees for HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea and chlamydia tests cost up to $70. But they’re $10 a piece during the Get Yourself Tested (GYT) campaign on April 24 and 27.

“We do know that cost is definitely is an obstacle,” McCafferty said.

Almost 125,000 men and women were tested by Planned Parenthood health centers during last year’s GYT campaign, according to a CDC press release. The organization also put on 240 events staffed by 1,250 youth volunteers and reportedly reached 67,000 people throughout the process.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

The facts about STDs:

-One in two sexually active young people will contract a Sexually Transmitted Disease by the time they are 25.
-People ages 15 to 24 account for nearly half of all new STD cases occurring in the U.S., while representing just 25 percent of the population.
-There are 65 million people living in the U.S. with an STD.
-There are 15 million new STD cases each year.

Sources: Planned Parenthood, Centers for Disease Control

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