MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation, working with Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its nationwide network of health centers, and other partners nationwide, today officially unveiled GYT: “Get Yourself Tested,” a campaign to increase testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among those under 25 years old.
An extension of MTV and Kaiser’s Emmy and Peabody-winning “It’s Your (Sex) Life” partnership to promote responsible decision making about sex, GYT kicked off yesterday with a mix of guerilla promotions on-air, online and in the real world – which will continue unfolding throughout the month of April in recognition of National STD Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four teen girls in the U.S. have at least one common STD. Other estimates find that as many as one in two sexually-active young people will contract an STD by age 25 – and most won’t know it.(1) In response to these facts, the GYT campaign informs young people about STDs and promotes testing and treatment as needed.
An all-star collective of pop culture personalities are carrying the GYT message far and wide, including Flo Rida, The All-American Rejects, Asher Roth, N.E.R.D., Santigold, Perez Hilton, Benji Madden and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, Big Boi, Keri Hilson, Soulja Boy, Joanna Garcia, Kid Sister, Chester French and Joy Bryant. These and other stars are appearing in a series of attention-getting on-air and online promotions on MTV and other MTV Network properties this month; blasting out GYT on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms; wearing GYT on their chest and sleeves; and of course, going to get tested for STDs.
From OMG to LOL, acronyms saturate young people’s everyday vernacular, acting as common methods of communication. Playing off mobile and Web slang, GYT is an easy way for young people to talk about sexual health and getting tested for STDs. GYT will help young people internalize the risk of STDs, as individuals and as a generation, seeking to eliminate taboos and stigmas surrounding STDs and STD testing.
GYT will also be woven throughout MTV programming, making appearances in popular shows, music videos and more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided assistance to ensure scientific accuracy of GYT health information. Additional campaign elements include:
-- www.gyt09.org - The central hub of the campaign, gyt09.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.
-- GYT short code and MTV Movie Awards Sweepstakes - A mobile companion
to gyt09.org, the GYT short code (49809) 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 2009 MTV Movie Awards in LA. Users can also
enter the sweepstakes online by using the testing location finder at
-- GYT Facebook Application- A downloadable GYT Facebook photo tagging
application that helps normalize STD testing by affixing the concept
to young peoples' everyday lives. The application is available for
download on gyt09.org. Users are also encouraged to become GYT fans
-- Pedro - GYT kicked off last night during the world television premiere
of Pedro, a movie based on the remarkable life of "The Real World's"
Pedro Zamora. Told through the eyes of his friends and family - and
written by Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning writer of
Milk - Pedro celebrates the extraordinary life a young man who found
out he was HIV positive at 17, then made the courageous decision to
dedicate his life to speaking out about and fighting the spread of the
disease. Encore performances of Pedro on MTV are scheduled for April
2nd at 9am ET/PT and at 4pm ET/PT, April 3rd at 2pm ET/PT, and April
5th at 8am ET/PT on MTV and on-demand at www.pedro.mtv.com.
Additionally, fans can get to know Pedro by viewing the full season of
The Real World San Francisco online. An educational discussion guide
created by Planned Parenthood for the movie is available online at
www.gyt09.org and at www.plannedparenthood.org.
-- GYT in Second Life - Virtual GYT awareness bracelets and information
will be available on CDC Island, the headquarters for the CDC in
Second Life which acts as a venue for forums, meetings, and education
on the mission of the CDC.
-- Music Video Premieres - Chester French and Asher Roth are MTV's
featured artists for April, and will help weave the GYT message
throughout MTV programming all month long. Additionally, MTV Hits and
Jams will feature GYT playlists throughout the month of April.
-- Community Outreach - Planned Parenthood is providing educational
resources online and at its nationwide network of health centers. GYT
promotional materials, including posters, buttons, stickers and
compilation reels, are being distributed to Planned Parenthood's more
than 800 health centers across the country and other testing locations
to provide community-level support for the campaign.
The New York City Department of Health, American Social Health Association and the National Coalition of STD Directors, among others, are also supporting the campaign’s community outreach efforts.
“The only way to know the status of your sexual health is to get tested. There’s no way around that fact,” said Stephen Friedman, General Manager of MTV. “This generation has the opportunity to redefine the conversation surrounding STDs and to break down stigmas. We hope this campaign will help arm our audience with the information and the ability to make GYT part of everyday life.”
“Despite being a very common health issue, many young people still don’t get tested for STDs due to a lack of knowledge and stigma,” said Tina Hoff, Vice President and Director, Entertainment Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation. “The GYT campaign is about making STD testing empowering, not shameful.”
“Most people would be shocked to hear that by age 25 one in two sexually active young people will have an STD. This is not just a statistic but the reality of what Planned Parenthood health centers see every day,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “The GYT campaign is an excellent opportunity for people to learn what Planned Parenthood knows — that affordable testing and treatment, and education, are the tools teens and young people need to stay healthy and safe.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the approximately 19 million new STDs (also referred to as sexually transmitted infections or STIs) that occur every year in the U.S., about half are among those 15 – 24 years of age. Since STDs often have no symptoms, most of those who are infected don’t know it. Lack of information, misconceptions and social stigma keep many people from getting tested. Others may mistakenly believe they have been tested as part of general health care. Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most commonly reported STDs, is easier than ever before with many clinics now offering urine-based tests. Rapid HIV tests can provide results in as little as 20 minutes with a swab inside the mouth. Diagnosis and treatment of STDs is critical to safe guarding personal health, fostering sexual responsibility and addressing the wider STD epidemic.
Since 1997, the Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV have partnered on an extensive, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning public information campaign on 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 www.itsyoursexlife.com.