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Using innovative methods to teach youth about STDs

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Of all the goals put forth by various health organizations during National STD Awareness Month, the effort to educate the nation's youth about sexually transmitted diseases may be the most important.

Numerous studies and articles have pointed to that demographic as experiencing a high increase in STDs across the board for testing positive for various conditions that include HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Though, despite a national campaign, a film on MTV and various social network tactics, some young adults may still be missing the message.

Nancy Morning works at a youth center in Maryland and recently gave an important lesson to a group of Latino teenagers and young adults who frequent the facility, reports. Morning, a 28-year-old who described herself as a "Puerto Rican chick from Brooklyn," admitted to the girls she once had a sexually transmitted disease.

The girls jaws reportedly dropped with one replying she always thought STDs were for "trashy people."

In terms of solutions, one of the common ones in the past has been for an organization to launch an initiative or fundraise. Sometimes a politician will introduce legislation aimed at reducing the rate of people infected with STDs.

Recently, Minnesota State Senator John Marty called for STD and STI (sexually transmitted infections) rates to be cut in half. Aside from funding for more STD tests, the bill would call for the state health department to provide recommendations on how to reduce the STD crisis.

One of the ways to reduce the crisis, which has been recommended in the past, is to better educate the youth about the various STDs that are out there. However, in an era of online video, smartphones and iPods, it may take more than a pamphlet to grab the attention of today's youth.

In an effort to combat that, MTV, which always seems to be the flagship television station for the emerging generation, teamed up with the Kaiser Family Foundation for a month-long program aimed at educating young people about STDs and urging anyone under the age of 25 to get an STD test.

The program is called GYT: Get Yourself Tested and has been praised by various health officials as a step in the right direction to combat the STD crisis.

"Most people would be shocked to hear that, by age 25, one in two sexually active people will have an STI," Steve Trombley, Planned Parenthood Illinois president, told the Southwest Star. "The GYT campaign is a great opportunity for people to learn that affordable testing and treatment and education are the tools teens and young people need to stay healthy and safe."

Recently Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, a Florida Democrat, applauded the GYT campaign and said it would "provide our youth with factual information on sexual health, which will empower them to make responsible decisions about their lives."
"Stigmas surrounding sex, STDs, and STD testing, too often keep young people from talking openly about sexual health and getting tested," Hastings said. "However, knowing your status is half the battle in protecting yourself from infection or receiving proper treatment, and getting yourself tested is the only way to know it for sure."

GYT has also created a presence on various social networking sites such as Facebook, which is another way of attracting and educating the youth of America.

It appears the efforts of GYT are already making waves throughout the country. Recently, the Columbus Health Department created an account on Manhunt, a site tailored for gay men, the Associated Press reports.

Debra Mullen, who handles the online accounts, told the news provider it has already helped some young men to come in for an STD test.ADNFCR-2248-ID-19137272-ADNFCR

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