We’re well into April, or as we know it, National STD Awareness Month. You may already know that many STDs may have no symptoms, and that untreated STDs can lead to other health problems like infertility and cancer. Statistics show that of sexually active youth, about half contract an STD by age 25, about half of all new STD cases are among people age 25 and younger, and only a minority of people report using protection during oral sex.
Interject the GYT Campaign! The Get Yourself Tested Campaign is targeted to college-age youth to encourage people to talk openly about getting tested for STDs with their health care providers, partners and even friends and acquaintances. Since young people have higher risks for contracting STDs, and rates continue to increase among the 15-24 age group, GYT and STD awareness are highly important on college campuses and among groups that fall in this age range.
STDs are 100% preventable and as we are working toward increased awareness for prevention, we cannot forget awareness for testing. You owe it to yourself to take care of yourself, and getting tested for STDs is another basic aspect of staying healthy and knowing yourself. Once someone becomes sexually active in any way, including oral sex or even mutual masturbation, getting tested should be incorporated in routine health checkups, or more often as needed.
Those of us with the most knowledge and awareness surrounding these matters become the spokespersons for such campaigns. If you want to get the word out in your community or on campus, you can organize an event as simple as tabling with information. If you want to try something different, you can expand to tabling at another event like a health fair or speaking engagement or even a drag show!
Last year, a step team at Buffalo State College performed a step routine just for the GYT campaign in the student union on campus. Another effective method of getting the word out is “guerilla” posting – gather flyers, tape, stapler and push-pins, then go around campus posting GYT messages like those on the GYT website (www.gytnow.org) wherever you can!
VOX Student Intern