Detailed by CNN earlier today, the Los Angeles Unified School District and STD prevention site Qpid.me have joined forces to encourage sexually-active students to get checked out for STDs and have a way to confidentially share that information with a potential partner. Targeting seventh through twelfth grade students, the Qpid.me service is being demonstrated in health classes around L.A. county. Former Miss California 2009 Tami Farrell is also attempting to help get the message out by providing her STD testing results as an example during each class demonstration of the service.
When a student visits the Qpid.me site for the first time, they will be able to find the closest STD testing center in their immediate area. After getting tested at one of the centers, the results of that test are privately sent to them over a text message.
The message may look something like “Tested 1 week ago. HIV: NEG, Gonorrhea: NEG, Chlamydia: NEG” and it will also include a Qpid.me link within the message. That link can be shared with a potential partner in order to prove STD status. Hypothetically, if the concept catches on, students may start demanding to know that information from their partner in order to preserve their healthy status.
Matthew French, a health teacher at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, told CNN that he wants his students to use the service in order to protect them. Specifically, he said “It’s just shown to them as a tool, just like a condom is a tool to prevent an STD. If students aren’t getting tested or aren’t talking to their partners about STD status, then knowing what gonorrhea is is kind of irrelevant.”
According to a 2011 study conducted by the Los Angeles County Health Department, Los Angeles teenagers between the age of 13 to 19 were responsible for about 16 percent of all gonorrhea cases and one out of four of every chlamydia case in the county. Even more telling, a 2005 study found that 16 percent of students in the seventh grade had engaged in oral sex with a partner and about twenty percent of eighth graders already had sexual intercourse. Nearly forty percent of high school students in L.A. county are reported to be having sex as well.
Children as young as twelve years old can get tested for STDs without the need for parental consent in the state of California, however the district’s HIV/AIDS prevention program manager, Tim Kordic, believes that high school students are more likely to use the Qpid.me service regularly when compared to younger teenagers. When asked about the purpose of the service, Kordic stated “We’re not using this as a lure for kids to say, ‘OK, you can have sex because you did this,’ What we felt was that if the kids had the information that they would make better decisions about their sexual partners.”
The creator of the site, Ramin Bastani, is hoping to launch Qpid.me across the nation at some point. When asked about opening up a resource to students, Bastani said “Sometimes kids are going to forget to use condoms, sometimes they’re not going to share their status, but if there’s a resource for them to do so, I think it empowers a lot of them who are really concerned about this.”