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Dr. Michelle joins MTV’s “Get Yourself Tested” Campaign





In response to the staggering rate of sexually transmitted infections (STDs) among youth in the U.S., MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation, as part of a longstanding public information partnership, are working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its network of health centers, and other partners nationwide, to kick-off National STD Awareness month with the return of the award-winning campaign, GYT: Get Yourself Tested.

As many as one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD by age 25—and most won’t know it .  GYT encourages Americans under age 25 to talk with health care providers and partners about getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to the CDC, this age group represents half of the estimated 19 million STDs occurring in the United States each year.  When left untreated, STDs can lead to an increased risk of HIV infection, infertility and cancer.

“The burden of STDs on young people in the United States is far too high, and it is urgent that we reach them with testing and treatment information to protect themselves from the long-term health effects of these infections,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., PhD., director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “A lack of information, misconceptions and social stigma keep many people from getting tested. Others mistakenly think they have been tested as part of routine health care. Since many STDs have no symptoms, most of those who are infected do not know it.  The only way to know for sure is to be tested.”

Playing off mobile and Web slang in young people’s everyday vernacular, such as “OMG” and “LOL,” GYT is an easy way for young people to talk about sexual health and getting tested for STDs. This year, GYT is rolling out a series of new initiatives on-air, online, on the ground at college campuses and in more than 4,000 health centers and clinics across the nation, including:

Celebs Talk GYT—In a series of on-air and online promotions, celebrities including Keri Hilson, Perez Hilton, Debi Nova, Emily VanCamp of Brothers and Sisters, Iyaz, and more join the campaign’s cast of all-star pop culture personalities spreading the GYT message far and wide.

GYT NOW Campus Challenge—To spur a social movement for students to start talking and to get tested on college campuses around the country, the “GYT NOW Campus Challenge” calls on young people to commit to getting tested by becoming a fan of GYT, and encouraging their peers to do the same.  The campus with the largest percentage of their student network to join the GYT Campus Challenge will be featured by MTV News special and highlighted on mtvU.  Additionally, MTV will award each of the top ten recruiters on the winning campus with an expense-paid trip for two and backstage passes to the Too Fast for Love Tour.

GYT Nation: An extensive on-the-ground outreach effort is taking GYT to communities cross the country.  GYT promotional materials, including t-shirts, posters, buttons, and stickers are being distributed to more than 4,000 health centers nationwide, including Planned Parenthood’s network of 840 health centers.  The CDC is also working with state and local health departments, the American Social Health Association and the National Coalition of STD Directors to get out information about the campaign.  And, the American College Health Association (ACHA) has joined the GYT campaign to spread the word and distribute GYT materials through college health centers.

The campaign’s website, GYTNOW.org, provides a community toolkit with promotional materials that can be customized and localized for easy distribution. In this online gallery, the audience can flex their creativity and make “GYT” their own by uploading personalized GYT designs.

“We’re committed to partnering with our audience to reverse the course of the rising national youth STD trend,” said Stephen Friedman, General Manager of MTV.  “GYT connects with young people everywhere they are, and prompts them to take control of their sexual health – arming them with tools that make it easier to talk openly about testing and take action to know their status.”

Once again, GYT will be woven throughout MTV programming, making appearances in popular shows, music videos and more.  CDC provided assistance to ensure scientific accuracy of GYT health information.  Comprehensive informational resources – designed for web and mobile applications – provide facts and referrals to local health centers.  Additional campaign elements include:

Online & Mobile:

www.GYTNOW.org – The central hub of the campaign, GYTNOW.org is a comprehensive information resource that includes facts about STDs; talking tips on how to discuss STD testing with partners, parents, and health care providers; and a testing location finder that connects users to local testing resources by simply entering a zip code.  A wide range of GYT-based content, including all of the participating artists and celebrities, are also showcased on the site.  Additionally, fans can connect to GYT via Facebook or Twitter.

GYTNOW short code and MTV Movie Awards Sweepstakes – A mobile companion to GYTNOW.org, the GYT short code (498669) provides details about local testing locations to mobile phones by simply texting a zip code.  Users of the service during the month of April will become eligible to win a trip for two to the 2010 MTV Movie Awards in LA. Users can also enter the sweepstakes online by using the testing location finder at GYTNOW.org.


MTV News — MTV News Correspondent Sway Calloway goes inside a New York City college to talk to students about STD testing. The segment explores who is getting tested, who is not, and the reasons why young people don’t get tested. Dr. Michelle Cespedes, a doctor of infectious diseases at NYU, and Dr. Michelle Callahan, a relationship expert and on-air personality, will weigh in on the importance of knowing your status and offer young people tips on talking about STD testing with partners and doctors.

mtvU Dean’s List – A freshman at the University of Hartford takes over as host for a new episode of mtvU’s “Dean’s List.”  During this hour long countdown of the music that’s making an impact on her campus, the audience will also follow as Kayla gets tested, dispels myths about STDs and testing, and talks to young people about why it’s important to GYT in college today.

MTV’s “How To” Show – Iyaz and Debi Nova explore “how to talk to your partner about testing,” and “how to ask your doctor to be tested” in this short-form segment to live on GYTNOW.org.

“We have found that entertainment media partnerships can be a powerful force for change,” said Tina Hoff, Vice President and Director of Entertainment Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation. “By working with this coalition of partners with common goal and on a targeted message, we hope to reduce the spread of STDs among young people by normalizing communication and testing.”

In 2009, GYT helped fuel an increase in STD testing among of young people under the age of 25 at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, including a 36 percent increase in the number of male STD testing patients and an 18 percent increase in the number of female STD testing patients from the previous year in ten nationally representative Planned Parenthood health centers. These increases were particularly noteworthy in communities of color, with a 30 percent increase over 2008 in the number of African-American female STD testing patients and a 20 percent increase in the number of Latina STD testing patients.

“Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses understand that if a young person is going to decide to get tested, barriers to communication need to be overcome and common myths must be dispelled. The good news is that testing for many STDs is fast and painless, and, contrary to the fears of some young people, does not involve needles,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards. “We know that the GYT campaign works. In the first year of the campaign, Planned Parenthood health centers saw an increase in testing, and we are committed to increasing the number of young people who get tested again this year.”

GYT is supported by a broad range of organizations including the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), American College Health Association (ACHA), ASHA (American Social Health Association), the National Chlamydia Coalition (NCC), and various state and local health departments, colleges and universities, and other community groups and non-profits.

An ongoing extension of MTV and Kaiser’s Emmy and Peabody-winning “It’s Your (Sex) Life” partnership, GYT encourages young people to make responsible decisions about their sexual health.  Since 1997, the Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV have worked together on this extensive public information partnership to address HIV/AIDs, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and related sexual health issues. The partnership includes targeted public service advertisements (PSAs), entertainment and other special programming, news segments, and free resources, including an informational guide developed especially for the campaign, and an extensive website http://www.itsyoursexlife.com. For more information visit http://www.GYTNOW.org.

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