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GYT (Get Yourself Tested) during STD Awareness Month

GYT (Get Yourself Tested)

GYT (Get Yourself Tested) during STD Awareness Month

This is STD Awareness Month. The GYT campaign is a partnership among the Kaiser Family Foundation, MTV, Planned Parenthood and the Centers for Disease Control. (Credit Planned Parenthood Arizona)

By Doug Ramsey Public News Service

      PHOENIX, ARIZ. – This is STD Awareness Month and, for the fifth year, MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood and the Centers for Disease Control are partnering in the GYT Campaign – “Get Yourself Talking, Get Yourself Tested.”

     According to Carol Bafaloukos, associate medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, there are 20 million new STD infections each year in the United States, with half of those occurring among the under-25 age group.

     “We don’t necessarily do a really good job of teaching them about prevention and the importance of using condoms, the important of abstinence,” she said. “Well, actually we do teach them about abstinence, but an abstinence-only program doesn’t necessarily give them the tools that they need if they do decide to become sexually active.”

Bafaloukos noted that many STDs cause no symptoms, so the only way to know is to get tested. The good news, she said, is that virtually all STDs are treatable and many are curable.

     Bafaloukos warned that untreated STDs can lead to cervical cancer and possibly to in-fertility in women.

     One of the main themes of the campaign – which includes videos, public service ads, and social media efforts — is to make the issue personal for women. A video shows Keys interviewing five women living with HIV. “They are just like you and just like me,” Keys says in the video of the women, who all sat in the front row of the foundation’s conference center during Monday’s kickoff.

     Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, and chairwoman of the White House Council on Women & Girls, also spoke at the event, making the point that the issue of women and AIDS has long been a personal one for her.

     “Every day I carry around the heartbreak of losing my sister-in-law, who died nearly 20 years ago,” Jarrett said. “She went months without being diagnosed because nobody thought to test a married woman at the time.”

     Jarrett pointed out that, under the Affordable Care Act, HIV testing is now covered as a preventive service without cost sharing, and beginning in 2014, people with HIV cannot be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

     This article was reprinted from Kaiser Health News with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



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