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Volume 8 – Winter 2015

Does your college campus GYT? Evaluating the effect of a social marketing campaign designed to raise STI awareness and encourage testing.

Melissa A. Habel, MPH,1 Laura Haderxhanaj, MPH, MS,1 Matthew Hogben, PhD,1 Heather Eastman-Mueller, PhD,2 Harrell Chesson, PhD,1 Craig Roberts, PA-C, MS.3
Cases in Public Health Communication & Marketing. 2015;8:51-70.

Author Affiliations

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. USA.
2 University of Missouri, Columbia, MO., USA.
3 University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI., USA.


Background: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) impose a considerable health and economic burden among college-aged students. College students report engaging in a number of high-risk behaviors, including having multiple sex partners, unprotected sex, and using drugs and binge drinking during sex. This pilot evaluation investigated the associations between STI testing and the GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign exposure, a social marketing campaign developed to promote sexual health discussions, raise awareness around STIs/HIV, and encourage testing among youth.

Methods: During April 2011, 12 geographically dispersed colleges implemented the GYT campaign. Each implemented a brief survey and recorded STI testing data. A total of 1,386 students were surveyed. We tested for associations with GYT campaign awareness and STI testing behaviors. Chi-square and binary regression analyses tested for associations with GYT campaign awareness, STI testing behaviors, and STI test results. Hierarchical linear models accounted for students nested within schools.

Results: Students presenting for STI testing were more likely to have heard of GYT than students not doing so; campuses hosting promotional events had higher proportions of students aware of GYT. These colleges, however, did not have higher proportions of students getting tested. Chlamydia positivity averaged 3.1%, and an estimated $26,000 in direct medical costs and $24,000 in lost productivity costs were averted by STI testing and treatment.

Conclusion: Pre-packaged STI testing campaigns may serve as successful tools for colleges interested in promoting and increasing STI/HIV awareness, testing, and treatment. At the individual level, GYT awareness was related to testing, but the effects for school efforts need further exploration. (Full-text PDF)


  • • Sexually transmitted infections
  • • University health services
  • • Chlamydia
  • • Gonorrhea
  • • Social marketing
  • • Health campaigns
  • • HIV

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