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 16 & Pregnant: Kristina 

Kristina is 16 and super involved in school activities, including getting straight A’s.  She didn’t plan on getting pregnant so young, but when she told her boyfriend, Todd, he was really supportive. And pregnancy wasn’t the only life challenge confronting Kristina– she faces an extreme tragedy when Todd drowned while they were at the beach together.  After such a devastating experience, Kristina has so much grief that she doesn’t really seem excited, or nervous or even stressed about the baby, since she’s already dealing with so many emotions. Even though it was hard for her to open up at first, she starts leaning on her family and friends for support.  Everyone responds to loss differently, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone– there are people around you, like family, friends, and counselors, or support groups, or even online communities that are there to help you as you take time to grieve.  Make sure that you’re being honest with yourself about your experience and that you’re communicating your feelings with people you trust.   If you’re trying to cope during a time of grief, visit this site for some information to help you as you work through the loss of someone close to you.

 

 16 & Pregnant: Sabrina 

Sabrina is 17 years old and just moved from LA to Tennessee to live with her mom.  When Sabrina goes to the doctor for a check-up before the baby comes, she and her mom talk about her getting on birth control after the baby comes. They talk about the IUD, which is a t-shaped device that goes in the uterus and is one method that is super effective for preventing pregnancy.  Taking control of your sex life is all about being proactive to preventing pregnancy, and Sabrina is on the right track to avoid a second pregnancy after Audrey is born. Want to know more about the IUD or other methods that work for preventing pregnancy? Get all the info you need here!

Once Audrey comes, Sabrina is really stressed out since her boyfriend, Iman, is still living in LA, and she isn’t sure if he’ll move across the country to help out with the baby.  But just when Sabrina gave up on Iman, he surprises her in Tennessee.  Even with Iman helping, Sabrina knows finishing high school is going to be difficult with a baby, but she stays committed to finishing high school, going to college, and making sure Audrey is happy. Are you committed to finishing high school and going to college like Sabrina? Don’t want having a baby to decrease your odds of achieving your goals?  Then make a plan to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy.  Get started by talking about protection with your partner.  It might sound uncomfortable, but nothing is more awkward than silence. Check out these tips to help you get the conversation started.

 16 & Pregnant: Sarah 

Sarah grew up without a dad and, while it’s been hard, she’s really close with her mom. Actually, the only person that Sarah’s closer with besides her mom is her boyfriend Blake, who she’s been dating on and off since 6th grade. Sarah wants to go to college and be a journalist, but Blake clearly doesn’t share her same goals for college since he dropped out of high school after getting bad grades.  And between wanting to play video games and eventually move to southern Georgia to be a shrimp fisherman,  Sarah’s not sure Blake will be there for the baby, Tinleigh, when she comes.  Sarah’s mom, Tina, wants Blake to contribute time and money to helping Sarah take care of Tinleigh, but Blake hates living with them and tells his friend that he would rather “pay child support and get out of here.” The tension gets to an all-time high when Sarah runs out of her savings and can’t afford diapers and Blake buys brand new tires for his truck instead of helping Sarah out.  After a fight, Blake leaves Sarah and Tinleigh and moves to southern Georgia. And if you’re thinking Blake is an unusually unhelpful guy, unfortunately, he’s in the vast majority since one of the 8 out of 10 teen fathers that don’t marry the mother of their child.

Without Blake in the picture, Sarah sleeps even less and is even more stressed out.  Sarah had counted on having Blake around so she could continue going to school.  But she’s determined not to give up all of her dreams of finishing high school and going to college but she knows it will have to be different.  She opens up about the challenges of being a single teen mom saying that she “didn’t want a baby at 17 because there were a lot of things I wanted to do at 17 that are a lot a lot a lot harder with the baby.” She even says that if she had known having a baby was going to be so hard, she would have done everything she could have not to get pregnant, even if that meant waiting to have sex.  Sarah gets straight to the point and explains that waiting “would have been the best thing.”  After all, waiting to have sex is the only 100% effective method to prevent pregnancy.  And did you know that 2 out of 3 teenagers wished they had waited to have sex? And if you’re waiting, you’re not alone– half of all teens in high school haven’t had sex.  But whether you decide to wait or decide you’re ready to have sex, it’s YOUR decision to make.  If you decide to have sex, make sure you know how to prevent pregnancy. Here’s what works and what doesn’t!

 16 & Pregnant: Hope 

Hope just graduated high school and loves hanging out with her friends.  She had never had a boyfriend and didn’t plan on having sex so she didn’t think about birth control. She met Ben at a party, and when they had sex for the first time, Ben didn’t have a condom so they decided he would pull out and everything would be fine. Ben and Hope only had sex a few times, but a few weeks later Hope found out she was pregnant. “If he pulls out, I won’t get pregnant (or an STD)” is one of the most common, but outrageous Sex Myths, so to set the record straight: withdrawal–or pulling out–is NOT an effective means of preventing pregnancy, HIV or other STDs.

Now as a teen mom, Hope feels isolated from her friends and family, and can no longer attend college in the fall. No one wants to or should have to give up on their college dreams, so take a lesson from Hope and be firm: no condom = no sex.  It might seem like in the heat of the moment it’s hard to say no, and that’s why it’s important to read up now and know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to preventing pregnancy so that you’ll can be prepared and protected when you do decide to have sex.

 

 16 & Pregnant: Myranda 

Myranda is an honor student who loves playing sports and going out with her friends. She and her boyfriend Eric love playing catch and video games, but they’re realizing that having a baby is going to be more than a game they can just pause or stop.  Myranda needs to think about all the responsibilities of being a mom AND focus on studying for her GED so she can go to college when the Kaylee is older. Talk about stressful! Most teen moms don’t graduate high school and only 2 out of 100 earn a college degree by the time they’re 30. We’re hoping Myranda is one of those 2, but it doesn’t seem like the odds are ever in her favor. Check out more of the REAL DEAL about teen pregnancy here.

Eric is working and going to community college so, even though he’s helping as much as he can, Myranda still can’t get more than 3 hours of sleep a night when Kaylee comes. As she puts it, she’s going “stir crazy” being alone in the house when she misses her friends and being in school.  She even admits she would take all of this back if she could and opens up to say that she thought it would be easier when Kaylee was born. She wishes that she would have waited to have sex so that she could give Kaylee a better life than she can right now. And Myranda isn’t alone. Did you know that almost 2 out of 3 teenagers who have had sex wish they’d waited and that half of all teens in high school have never had sex? Here are ways to talk about waiting to have sex until you’re ready.

And how did this all happen? Well, Myranda decided that she was going to go off the pill for a month because she ran out and didn’t think she would get pregnant. The pill only works when you take it correctly and consistently– that means EVERY DAY. And what about Eric? He tells his friends that he didn’t wear a condom because he was thinking about himself and not about everything else that could happen.  But thinking pregnancy won’t happen to you doesn’t protect you. So, what does work for preventing pregnancy? Find out here!

 16 & Pregnant: Jordan 

Jordan is a junior in high school who loves hanging out with her friends and Tyler, her boyfriend, even though her friends and family don’t understand why she’s with him. Jordan was always defending Tyler to her mom and everyone else that she spent more time protecting her relationship than actually protecting herself, so now they have a new challenge to face together: being teen parents.  Jordan loves Tyler and never doubts that he’ll be a good dad, but there’s definitely tension between Tyler and Jordan’s mom. Jordan’s mom finally comes around and allows Tyler into her home. Jordan is really excited that she can have both her mom and Tyler there to support her and the baby, but after Chase is born, Tyler visits less and less. Jordan learns that having a baby means more than buying food, clothes, and a crib…it’s making sure Chase is taken care of.  And that means making tough sacrifices. Without Tyler around, Jordan realizes that she can’t handle both finishing high school and taking care of Chase so she decides to drop out of school. She always planned on going to school to be a dental hygienist, but now she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to get back on track. But get this: Jordan’s situation actually represents the majority of teen moms, since less than half of teen moms ever graduate from high school.  If you decide you’re ready to have sex, it’s important to make sure you’re ready with a pregnancy prevention now so that you don’t have to let go of your plans for the future.  Start taking control by finding out what works and what doesn’t to protect against pregnancy here.

 16 & Pregnant: Alex 

Between two jobs and school, Alex is used to balancing a lot, but being pregnant, she’s going to have to balance a lot more.  Throughout her pregnancy, Alex struggles with deciding between adoption and keeping the baby. She feels a connection with the baby and wants to keep it, but she also listens to her boyfriend, Matt, and her mom that adoption may be the best option. She knows that another family could provide her baby with more opportunities than she could since Alex and Matt are still in school. After thinking about the decision for weeks, Alex ultimately decides to keep the baby even though her friend’s parents offer to adopt the baby in an open adoption.   But when she does, all her worst fears about Matt not stepping up when the baby arrives all come true since he is MIA all the time.

How did it get to this point?  Well, props to Alex and Matt for being on the right track and using condoms.  When used correctly and consistently, each and every time, from start to finish, condoms are the only method that protect against both unintended pregnancy and STDs.  But the key is correct and consistent use every time.  When a condom broke one night, Alex and Matt again were on the right track, since went to buy emergency contraception, they thought it was too expensive so they didn’t buy it.  While it’s so important to have a plan to prevent pregnancy, it’s just as important to actually follow through on that plan.  Now, Alex is figuring out how expensive having a baby is between diapers, day care, clothes, and bottles. Protecting against pregnancy is all about making sure you’re covered all the time. When there is a one-time slip up, emergency contraception is very effective at reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy and costs $50 at pharmacies- a lot cheaper than having a baby.  So take control, make a plan, and act on it!  Get started by checking our what works and what doesn’t for preventing pregnancy here!

 

 National Latino AIDS Awareness Day: Para Nuestra Cultura by GYT Campus Ambassador Anthony 

Para Nuestra Cultura (For Our Culture)

October 15th marks the end and beginning of two significant Latino events. The date concludes the end of Latino Heritage Month, a month used to promote cultural awareness to the rest of our fellow Americans. What this date is more importantly known for is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. There aren’t any major celebrations associated with this event but it doesn’t imply that this day is any less important than the festivities of the month prior. If anything, National Latino AIDS Awareness Day is a symbolic reference that purposely takes place at the end of Latino Heritage Month. It should serve to us, Latinos, as a reminder that regardless of our religious beliefs, political views, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background, HIV/AIDS is affecting millions of Latinos around the world.

I speak of this through personal experience. My uncle passed away from AIDS after contracting HIV at its peak in the late 1980s. Since the time of his death, I’ve been sharing his story and how his death has affected me to countless people. His stories and experiences have driven me to dig deeper into the public policy aspect that affects million of HIV/AIDS patients in the U.S and how it can be more effective to those with the disease. However, speaking out about my personal experience of HIV/AIDS to other Latinos, like me, has been challenging for several reasons.

Many in the Latino community still believe HIV/AIDS is a “gay” disease. But many heterosexuals also died from HIV/AIDS when the disease first spread. The famous salsa singer Hector Lavoe committed suicide one he discovered he had acquired the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from sharing drug needles. The thing to take from this is that HIV/AIDS has never been a “gay” disease since its inception in the late 1970’s.

Being gay in the Latino community is typically met with social stigma. As a result, many men who have sex with other men (MSM) feel uncomfortable and ashamed to get tested. However, Latinos have the second highest development of new HIV infections among men and women, right behind African Americans. This statistic speaks to the entire Latino community, regardless of our stereotypical gender roles.  Machismo is a cultural term that infiltrates the lives of Latino males from the moment we are born. It is a term that upholds the importance of males as head of the house, having children, and working hard to provide the household income. Many Latinos who “come out” to their families increase their chances of being disowned, looked down upon by other family members, kicked out of their homes, and/or living in the streets without a place to call home, cultural risks that dissuade MSM from coming out. HIV infection rates increase as MSM continue to have sex without getting tested and without knowing their HIV status. This is also how the disease is transmitted to women who are unaware of their partner’s sexual activity. Brushing all stereotypes and generalizations aside, HIV/AIDS will continue to exist and coming to accept this disease is challenging for many Latinos.

These are just some of many reasons why HIV/AIDS is increasing in the Latino community, why my uncle could not disclose his HIV status earlier to his family, and why it is important to recognize that this disease does not discriminate against anyone, including Latinos.

October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. On this day, I ask that all Latinos push all gender roles and stereotypes about gay males aside. HIV/AIDS will still exist no matter what roles and expectations we are expected to live up to. Our biggest conquer over this disease is if we acknowledge and accept its increasing presence among Latinos. Millions of people have died from this disease, millions more are currently infected. Latinos are already seen in high statistical ratings for other diseases in this country. HIV/AIDS should not be one of them.

“I’m a person living with AIDS and I’ll be living with AIDS until I take my last breath”

-Pedro Zamora, a Cuban-American television star from “The Real World: San Francisco” who battled with HIV/AIDS

 

 GET INSPIRED: Spotlight on Ohio State University Student Health Services 

College students!   Health Center Staff!   Peer Health Educators!   Looking for some ideas on how to spread the word about GYT on campus?   Get inspired by Ohio State University’s Student Health Services Blog.   OSU’s Student Health Center is all about helping their students to get the facts, talk openly with their clinicians, and GYT.   Check out this post to see how OSU is providing all the GYT info that students need.   Want to take action like OSU?   If you’re a high-school or college student, apply to be a GYT Campus Ambassador or if you’re a health center staffer, sign your student health center up to join the GYT campaign.

And if your school doesn’t have a student health center, GYT’s testing center locator will find the STD testing centers nearest you- just enter your zip code here.   It’s that easy.   So what are you waiting for?   GYT today.

 

 It’s National HIV Testing Day: Time to GYT! 

GYT has been getting the word out all month to lead up to today, June 27th, National HIV Testing Day.   Did you know one in five Americans living with HIV doesn’t even know it?   Know yourself and know your status.   Knowing is greater than doubt, and many testing centers are offering free or low-cost testing, so what are you waiting for?   GYT today.   Find the testing center nearest you by entering your zip code here or by texting your zip code to GYTNOW (498669).   Not sure what to expect when you go to get tested?   GYT can help.   Check out GYT’s HIV 101 here.     Rise up and Be Greater Than AIDS.   Get the facts and Get Yourself Tested.

 

 Rise Up and Be Greater Than AIDS: Get Yourself Tested 

This June, GYT is teaming up again with Greater Than AIDS to bring you Be Greater Than AIDS: Get Yourself Tested Month.

Living GYT is all about knowing yourself and knowing your status.   So what’s the status of your HIV status?   This June, rise up and Be Greater Than AIDS.   GYT today for HIV.   All you have to do is go  find your nearest STD testing center.

Get the facts on HIV/AIDS here.

Know yourself. Know your status. GYT.

 

 Naomi from Real World GYTs 

On a recent episode of MTV’s The Real World: Las Vegas, one cast member, Naomi goes to GYT after worrying that she might have an STD after having unprotected sex with another cast member, Leroy. Leroy believes the outrageous myth that “I would know if I had an STD” (which GYT debunked on MTV’s 10 Most Outrageous Sex Myths Show). Here are the facts: STDs often have no symptoms, so many people who have an STD don’t know it. And you can’t tell by looking. The only way to know for sure is to GYT. And part of living GYT is respecting yourself and your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, friend with benefits, hook-up buddy) enough to protect yourself ALWAYS, no excuses.

Despite all the worries, Naomi and Leroy seem to have a newfound love of latex since condoms are the only method that protect against BOTH unintended pregnancy and STDs.