April 15, 2011
Much as the text-message terms "OMG" and "LOL" have become common, organizers of the youth-targeted STD campaign "Get Yourself Tested" hope "GYT" does the same.
"GYT" conveys a simple yet serious message for youths who are unaware they are contributing to the spread of STDs, said Miriam Hernandez, regional director of health service operations for Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio. "Re-infections are common in teenagers, especially if they are having unprotected sex with untreated partners. Repeat infections can also be seen in nonmonogamous relationships, which teens tend to have," she said.
Cleveland Health Department data show that 44 percent of the city's 6,008 chlamydia diagnoses in 2009 were among people ages 15 to 19. And roughly one-third of city gonorrhea reports that year were among this age group.
HIV infections also are rising among young people. In 2002, 10 percent of new cases countywide were among people ages 20 to 29; by 2009, that percentage was 38.4.
In April, National STD Awareness Month, Planned Parenthood centers in northeast Ohio are offering free testing on Fridays. Hernandez urged people who have tested positive for an STD to get retested quarterly due to high rates of repeat infections. Planned Parenthood's Free Testing Fridays screen for HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. The HIV test is a mouth swab, while gonorrhea and chlamydia are detected via urine samples.
Walk-in or appointment-based testing is available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 7997 Euclid Ave., Cleveland; 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 3311 Broadview Rd., Cleveland; 9 a.m.-3 p.m., 444 W. Exchange St., Akron; and 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., 2663 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton. Telephone 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) for details.