Get yourself talking and get yourself tested

April 17, 2014

By Tanya Atkinson, Vice President of Public Affairs and Community Education from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin

Did you know that young people account for 29 percent of all HIV diagnoses in Wisconsin? Or that an estimated 438 young people don’t even know they’re infected?
During April- STD Awareness Month- young people are encouraged to learn about sexually transmitted diseases and get tested. Per 100,000 Wisconsinites, 15- to 19-year-olds account for 30 percent of STD infections and 20- to 24-year-olds account for 39 percent. While STDs continue to disproportionately affect young people, getting tested should be part of basic preventive health care.
That’s why Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin teamed up with MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation for the sixth year of Get Yourself Tested (GYT). GYT is an award-winning national campaign that includes on-air, online, and on-the-ground activities designed to promote sexual health among young people and address the disproportionately high STD rates among those under 25.
During last year’s GYT campaign, Planned Parenthood provided 3,880 STD tests across Wisconsin. This April, all Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin health centers will offer free STD testing. Planned Parenthood is also participating in numerous community outreach and educational events across the state to raise awareness about the importance of STD testing and treatment.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is proud to offer affordable STD testing, treatment, and sex education and information to help ensure that young people stay safe, healthy, and strong. We work every day to reduce STD rates and our doors are open to everyone. Visit or call 1-800-230-PLAN to make an appointment for free STD testing in April or other sexual health services throughout the year.
Things everyone should know about STDs and getting tested:
Getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. STDs, if not treated, can lead to serious health outcomes such as increased risk of cervical cancer and infertility.
Getting tested is easy, quick, and painless. For example, rapid HIV tests can provide results in 20 minutes from just a swab in the mouth. For other tests, all you have to do is urinate in a cup. No needles necessary.
Most STDs, including HIV, are treatable, and many are curable. The sooner you know, the sooner you can get treatment. Not all medical checkups include STD testing so it’s important to ask your health care provider for the tests you need.
Many STDs cause no symptoms. For example, 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men with chlamydia have no symptoms. On average, people with HIV don’t develop symptoms for 10 years. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.
Getting tested is important no matter who you are or where you live. But unfortunately, some communities are hit harder than others. African Americans and Latinos account for dramatically disproportionate rates of new HIV infections and men who have sex with men have the highest HIV rates nationwide. In 2012, 12.5 per 100,000 Wisconsin men aged 15-29 were diagnosed with HIV- nearly twice that of older men.
This April, spread the word that STD testing should be a routine part of health checkups, especially for a sexually active young person. It’s one of the easiest and most important things you can do to protect your health.