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Campaign Urges Testing

Campaign Urges Testing

April, National STD Awareness Month, brings the return of the award-winning campaign "GYT: Get Yourself Talking, Get Yourself Tested." Cosponsored by MTV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Planned Parenthood, and the Kaiser Family Foundation. GYT encourages young people to start conversations about STDs with partners and health care providers. According to the CDC, people under age 25 represent half of the estimated 19 million STD cases occurring annually in the United States. Left untreated, STDs can increase the risk of HIV infection, infertility and cancer, said a news release from Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta. "More than half of all teens will become sexually active during their high school years," said Julie Mickelberry, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood. "By the age of 25, one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD. It's time for young people to feel comfortable about talking with their partners, their health care providers, and their parents about being tested." GYT plays off popular mobile and Web slang such as "OMG" (Oh, my God) and "LOL" (Laughing out loud). In 2009 the campaign helped boost STD testing among young people at Planned Parenthood clinics, including a 36% increase in male patients and an 18% increase in female patients from the previous year in 10 nationally representative Planned Parenthood centers.

Louisiana has the country's second-highest rate of gonorrhea and the fifth-highest rate of chlamydia. On April 27, Planned Parenthood will join other organizations participating in Healthy Teens Coalition Day at the Capitol. The aim is to educate legislators about the importance of comprehensive sexual health programs, said Mickelberry.

Planned Parenthood offers low-cost STD testing at locations around the country.

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