The Centers for Disease Control has designated April 2008 “STD Awareness Month.” Citing data that one in four Americans has a sexually transmitted disease, the agency is urging health care providers to distribute pamphlets, hang posters, and e-mail colleagues to raise consciousness about the importance of sexual health. With more than 19 million new cases a year, however, the CDC is going to need some help getting the word out.
One creative approach adopted by an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit called Internet Sexual Information Services takes its cue from the greeting-card industry. ISIS instructs people diagnosed with STDs to “notify everyone you’ve had sex with in the past six months” (“Oral sex counts, too”) and suggests that, in doing so, you make use of a personal computer or Mac (“Try looking through your old e-mails and your online address book”). Once you’ve located the necessary e-mail addresses, ISIS invites you to choose one of six specially designed e-cards. Each one can be forwarded to up to six lovers, friends with benefits, or “tricks” to break the bad news as gently as possible (Page 2). If you wish, you can make your greeting more medically specific by choosing your particular disease (“Chlamydia, Crabs & Scabies, Gonorrhea,” etc.) from a pull-down menu. Sample e-cards in English and Spanish appear below and on the following five pages.
Hallmark, eat your heart out.
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