THE BRONX — A group of Longwood teens have taken their sexual health into their own hands, making a series of public service announcements to dispel myths about sexually transmitted infection and remind their peers to get tested.
In one segment, called “STI Testing,” teens walk near a health clinic advising them to get tested for STIs, one of them pauses and looks behind her to see a yellow rope linking her to several canoodling couples.
“Um, I think I’ll catch up with you guys later,” she says to her friends before cautiously walking into the center.
Destiny Rodriguez, 16, who made the videos along with Isaac Watkins, 17, and Kerslie Valerio, 18, said the goal is to remind people that you’re probably not the only person your current sexual partner has been with. That makes STI testing very important, she added.
The ads were created with the help of the Community Healthcare Network and were released for April, known as “Get Yourself Tested Month.”
The teenagers wrote and produced the PSAs themselves, and Community Healthcare Network distributed them to community organizations, teen websites and teen blogs.
The other video, called “No STI Symptoms…No Problem?” features one of the actors frantically trying to use homemade methods to figure out whether or not he has an STI, after which his partner advises him to just get tested because “You can still have something and not see it.”
This is meant to combat one of the biggest misconceptions the teens say they hear about STIs from their peers, which is that if they do not see any physical signs like rashes or bumps, they must be fine.
“You don’t necessarily have to have a physical symptom,” Valerio said, “Or any symptom at all.”