STIs continue to be a significant public health concern in the U.S. The CDC estimates 20 million new STIs occur each year in the U.S., and many STIs are on the rise. One in two sexually active people in the U.S. will get an STI at some point in their life.
Some communities are disproportionately affected by STIs - young people are hit the hardest. Half of all STIs are in people under 25, although they represent only a quarter of people having sex. Young people of color, as well as LGBTQ young people, are at even greater risk of getting an STI.
Young people have very few examples of healthy conversations about STIs. In movies or on television, for example, partners often engage in sexual behavior without talking about protection, testing, or STI status. These encounters often don't reflect the diverse identities and experiences of young people. It's important to show young people that good communication, making sure everyone is on the same page about staying safe and healthy, can enhance the experience of both partners and can bring partners closer together. Communication about sex is a skill that can be learned.
At Planned Parenthood, we believe that all people have the right to healthy sex and relationships. We set out to fill these critical public health gaps with our "STD Video Series."
Getting comfortable talking about STIs, staying safe, and getting tested is an integral part of a healthy, happy sex life, and an essential component of sex education. We developed the "STD Video Series" to model positive communication between partners about safer sex, STI testing, and status disclosure in order to build skills, normalize sexual health, and combat the stigma surrounding STIs and sex in general.
Technology can help reach young people who aren't receiving sex education or can supplement education that young people are receiving from their parents and in schools. Planned Parenthood is developing innovative ways to use technology to meet young people where they are to help them navigate decision-making about relationships and sexual health.
YouTube is the second-largest social networking site next to Facebook, and is a great resource for "how-to" videos. Planned Parenthood's videos are designed to be a resource for young people looking for information on how to talk about sex with partners.
The "STD Video Series" explains and models what healthy communication looks like in different situations and with different couples. The three videos are:
These videos are geared for older teens and young adults (16-22), and model what healthy communication about STIs is and what it looks like in a variety of relationships. These videos are an important tool that can be used to educate young people around the country.
We designed this set of videos to be matter-of-fact, fun, and sexy, as well as educational. Young people should understand that communication around safer sex is a good way to get closer to your partner and set the mood — it can be part of a hot, healthy, sexual experience.
Planned Parenthood also knows that representation matters. Young people need and deserve to see themselves reflected in media and educational resources. That's why we designed our new video series to show diverse couples modeling how to talk in open and healthy ways with a partner about using condoms and dental dams, getting tested, and disclosing an STI.
Young people need to learn how to communicate their needs in sexual situations and negotiate around safer sex and STI prevention. Only by helping young people to build these communication skills can we help ensure that they are truly prepared for adulthood.
We launched the videos in April 2017 as a part of Get Yourself Tested (GYT) Month, which is observed in April each year. The videos can be found on YouTube, as well as our website, plannedparenthod.org. We've also promoted them through our social media properties, with very positive reception and engagement.
April social views/clicks:
Total Facebook video views: 149,147
Total Twitter clicks: 33
Total Tumblr clicks: 814
Total Instagram views: 11,926
Total YouTube: 53,813
Total Views to date via all social media properties: 231,720
We also presented the videos at the Youth Tech Health Live conference in San Francisco in April, 2017.
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