Health Department Launches Social Media Campaign
To Encourage Screenings For Sexually Transmitted Infections

Emoji campaign targets adolescents and young adults, among whom STIs are rising
New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/stdclinic to find a local testing site

January 13, 2017 – The Health Department today unveiled a social media ad campaign to encourage screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among young women, young men who have sex with men (MSM) and adolescents aged 15 to 19. The campaign will run for four weeks on social media as well as dating apps primarily used by MSM, and is part of the de Blasio administration’s effort to expand and improve the City’s STD clinics. Adolescents and young adults are disproportionately at risk for STIs, including HIV. These infections usually have no symptoms and are treatable, but they can later cause serious and irreversible conditions if left untreated, such as fertility problems, neurologic damage, cardiovascular damage and AIDS. In 2015, reported chlamydia rates were highest among 15 to 24 year old women. In that same year, reported gonorrhea rates were highest among 20 to 29 year old men.

#PlaySure Kit

The enhancements to the City Health Department STD clinics are included under the NYC Plan to End the AIDS Epidemic, which includes a $23 million investment in Fiscal Year 2017 to increase HIV prevention and health care programming that will benefit nearly 200,000 New Yorkers per year when fully implemented. The plan aims to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in New York City to no more than 600 by 2020, a target that would reduce HIV to below epidemic levels. As part of this plan, the Health Department announced an increase in City STD clinic hours and sexual health services last year as well as several other innovative programs supporting HIV prevention and care through partnerships with community providers.

“With STI rates rising among young New Yorkers, this new media campaign is a creative way to remind everyone to get screened and know their status,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “These infections are common and all New Yorkers should get tested regularly in order to ensure a healthy sex life. The only STI test you should worry about is the one you don’t take.”

“Emojis can quickly – and cheekily – convey the importance of sexual health by encouraging sexually active young people to get themselves screened for STIs,” said Dr. Susan Blank, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of STD Control and Prevention. “These images are designed for young people no matter who they are, and no matter what they’re into. We don’t just ❤ NY, we ❤ a sexually healthy NY.”

It’s crucial that we reach young people in new and effective ways, and this ad campaign delivers,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Routine testing is one of the most important things our adolescents and young adults can do for their health. I’m thrilled to see the Department of Health convey this message in such a culturally savvy way. My thanks go to Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and her extraordinary team for their great work.”

“We need to increase awareness among sexually active younger New Yorkers – who are disproportionately at risk for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia – about STD testing and their health care options,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “By using social media, the de Blasio administration and the Health Department are making it easier for those at risk to learn their status and take steps to protect their health.”

"I urge all New Yorkers to get tested regularly for STDs," said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). "Early detection of STDs saves lives and prevents unnecessary pain and suffering. I commend Commissioner Bassett and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for leading this important campaign and remain committed to working closely with them to reduce new infections."

New Yorkers should talk openly with their doctors about their sexual practices and about getting screened for HIV. For additional information about the City’s low- to no-cost STD clinics, please visit nyc.gov/stdclinic.

New Yorkers can also call 311 to find a local testing site, including any of the eight City Health Department STD clinics. To find a location that offers free NYC Condoms, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/condoms. To learn more about condom use and sexual health or to download the free NYC Condom Finder, please visit facebook.com/NYCcondom.

#PlaySure Kit

#PlaySure Kit
In December 2015, the Health Department launched #PlaySure – a novel HIV and STI prevention campaign. The goal of this sex-positive campaign was to reach all New Yorkers and encourage them to choose their preferred HIV and STI prevention tools, regardless of their HIV status. To complement this campaign, the Health Department developed an innovative safer sex toolkit, the #PlaySure Kit. The #PlaySure Kit holds everything New Yorkers need to play sure – condoms, lubricant and the preferred prevention pill (PrEP, HIV meds, and/or birth control). Over 50,000 kits have been distributed to New Yorkers since World AIDS Day 2015, when the kit was originally unveiled. The Kit helps New Yorkers design a safer sex plan that fits their lifestyle and needs. #PlaySure Kits are available for free at participating community organizations and at many community events throughout the year. Distribution locations are also available by calling 311.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez, (347) 396-4177
PressOffice@health.nyc.gov