New Twist on Sexting: DC Youth Find Safer Sex Info on Their Phones

June 10, 2010

Washington, DC – June 8, 2010 – As many parents know, the best way to get information to young people is by texting them, using Facebook, or through video on YouTube. Youth at Metro TeenAIDS are reaching their friends and peers with life-saving information about using condoms and getting free HIV/STI tests through all of these new media techniques using the REALtalk social marketing campaign.

The REALtalk campaign will be featured this Friday, June 11th from 4:30-8:00 pm at Metro TeenAIDS’ Freestyle Youth Center, located at 651 Pennsylvania Ave SE near the Eastern Market Metro stop.

The REALtalk campaign is run by a team of 10 young people at Metro TeenAIDS who design the elements and promote a range of activities to link DC’s youth with HIV/STI prevention information and testing. One way the social marketing campaign offers DC youth the power of information is through their phones. Youth can text “REALtalk” to 61827 to obtain details on HIV/STI testing centers, quiz their HIV/STI knowledge, and learn of future REALtalk events. This is the first social marketing program focused on HIV/STI information dissemination through phones in the DC area.

Washington, DC has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the United States. Moreover, 1% of young people ages 13 – 24 in the DC area are confirmed to be living with HIV. The STI rate in DC is also alarming. 13% of the 3,000 students at eight high schools tested positive for an STI — mostly Chlamydia or gonorrhea — in a DC Department of Health pilot program in 2008. The REALtalk campaign is designed to make HIV/STI testing locations and condom availability easily accessible for DC youth.

Deron Perkins, a 16-year-old youth working for Metro TeenAIDS, says of the new texting campaign: “I like being able to tell my friends that they can text REALtalk to 61827 for information on where to get tested and condoms. It makes it easier to get the HIV prevention message out there.”

About REALtalk:

REALtalk is a program of Metro TeenAIDS (MTA), a nonprofit founded in 1988 dedicated to support young people in the fight against HIV/AIDS. MTA is the only organization in the Washington, DC area focused solely on the needs of youth as they relate to HIV and AIDS. For more information, please visit the newly revamped website: www.realtalkdc.org.


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