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San Francisco
launches text message STD education campaign

San Francisco
launches text message STD education campaign

Young people can request STD information via text messaging on their cell phones

The San Francisco health department this week launched a new HIV and STD prevention initiative that sends safer-sex messages via text messaging to cell phones of city residents seeking answers to sexual health questions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The program, modeled after a similar safer-sex campaign in London, is aimed at people ages 12 to 24 and was launched in response to rapidly rising STD rates among San Francisco youth, health officials say.

Cell phone users can send the text message "sexinfo" to one of two telephone numbers set up by the health department, and choose from a list of questions they'd like to have answered. Messages address such issues as how to handle pressure to have sex and what to do if a condom breaks during sex, the Chronicle reports. Text message responses are sent usually within one to two minutes, health officials say. Most messages also include a telephone number that recipients can call for more information.

"We wanted to design a program that would reach young people with the technology they use most often," Jacqueline McCright, STD services manager at the health department, told the Chronicle of the reasons for launching the program.

The program will cost the health department about $2,500 per month to operate. (The Advocate)

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