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STD awareness month urges people to get blood test

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

In what may be described as a daring approach to raise the awareness of STDs among the younger generation, a website is asking people to post a story about their sexually transmitted disease or condition.

One entry was posted this week by a person named "Catherine" who wrote about how she "got herpes before she had sex" on

"As a baby, I played with other little girls that lived in my apartment complex. They had contracted herpes from their mother, and after slobbering all over the same toys, I also contracted the virus," wrote Catherine.

She goes on to say how she always informed her sexual partners of her STD and took "every precaution not to spread it." Unfortunately, Catherine found out her first boyfriend was an unknown carrier of the disease and had unknowingly given it to her "nether regions."

While Catherine's story may be slightly depressing, it serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of getting an STD test and knowing one's status, even if you suspect nothing is wrong.

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month and aims to get more people tested for STDs so they know their status and, if needed, can get early treatment.

Though many people associate STDs with HIV, some health officials are taking the national awareness month as an opportunity to remind people of other diseases and conditions that can be contracted through sexual contact.

Jeannine Mallory, a public information officer for the Pinellas County Health Department in Florida, told many STDs don't have visible symptoms or early warning signs.

"There are lots of misconceptions out there about STDs and having an awareness month and just getting people talking about it through this talk, test and treat campaign can help dispel these misconceptions," Mallory said.

One of those misconceptions is that such conditions can only be transmitted through sex. As Catherine's story showed, this isn't entirely true.

Tricia Llewellyn, an OB-GYN with Florida's Morton Plant Mease, said there are a variety of lab tests men and women can get to know their STD status, according to the article.

Gynecologists can do cervical specimens for women and urine tests for men to test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, Lleqellyn told the news provider. For HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and C, people can get a blood test.

However, news articles and special events may not be enough to grab the attention of the younger generation.

For them, another campaign has been incorporated into the awareness month that is specifically aimed at people under the age of 25 to get tested.

MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation have partnered to launch GYT: Get Yourself Tested, which will roll out a mixture of television and online promotions to encourage and educate people about getting tested for STDs.

The campaign had an unofficial launch with the premiere of the MTV-produced film Pedro, which was based on the life of Pedro Zamora, a cast member on the third season of MTV's The Real World.

Zamora contracted HIV when he was 17 and became one of the first people on television who was open about his condition. The show documented Zamora's treatment as well as his speaking tours to various schools and community centers.

A day after the finale of the show aired, Zamora died at the age of 22. The film celebrates his young life and, like the talking appearances he used to do when he was alive, urges the youth of the country to practice safe sex and get tested for STDs regularly.ADNFCR-2248-ID-19115647-ADNFCR

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