April 04, 2011

Free STD testing available for those under 25

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- One out of every two people receives a sexually transmitted disease diagnosis by the time they reach the age of 25, so getting tested and being informed is essential, according to Kathy O’Laughlin, RN and program manager for the Jackson County Health Department’s (JCHD) Sexual Health Program.

That is why the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Student Health Center and the JCHD are partnering in a GYT4SS (Get Yourself Tested 4 Safer Sex) campaign to help young adults prevent sexually transmitted diseases. The campaign is an extension of MTV’s national GYT (Get Yourself Tested) campaign that encourages STD testing for men and women ages 25 and younger. O’Laughlin said often people don’t know they have an STD because they aren’t experiencing symptoms.

“People often feel a little nervous or embarrassed to talk about STDs -- that’s okay, a lot of people do. If you are going to be sexually active, GYT is here to help you get the conversation started with your health care provider and partner. Talking about STDs and testing shows that you are someone who cares about yourself and the people you love,” said Christy Hamilton, wellness coordinator at the SIUC Student Health Center-Wellness Center.

The testing is fast and easy and involves just a simple urine check, according to O’Laughlin. April is STD Awareness Month and during this month there will be three free testing events open to students and the public age 25 and younger. Each session offers free, confidential urine screens for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

No appointment is necessary. Just show up and provide a urine sample and contact information. There will even be free medication for anyone testing positive.

Here’s the screening schedule, with all test sessions running from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.:

• Thursday, April 7, Lentz Hall, Last Resort Lounge, Thompson Point.

• Tuesday, April 12, Grinnell Hall, lower level.

• Thursday, April 14, Student Center, Old Main Lounge on the second floor.

In addition, the JCHD is offering free, confidential, urine testing for STDs between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday throughout the months of April and May in conjunction with the GHT4SS program. For details, email gyt4ss@jchdonline.org or call 618/684-3143, ext. 115.

See http://www.gytnow.org for more information about the Get Yourself Tested campaign and tips for talking to a partner or health care provider. The campaign also has Facebook and Twitter pages.

To learn more about the testing at SIUC or to schedule a GYT4SS presentation, contact Hamilton at 618/453-4431.