A message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of STD Prevention STDs in the United States
STD Awareness Month, observed each April, is an opportunity to raise awareness about what STDs are and how they impact our lives; and understand why it’s important to prevent, test for, and treat STDs.
The surge of STDs endangers the health of too many in the United States (U.S.). According to the CDC, from 2013-2017:
- Syphilis cases nearly doubled
- Gonorrhea cases increased by 67 percent
- Chlamydia cases remained at record highs
Given this data, STD Awareness Month is a timely reminder to continue to raise awareness about STDs, take action to mitigate the increase in STDs in the U.S., and reduce STD-related stigma, fear, and discrimination.
Pick the CDC STD campaign that works for you
Choose from four of our most popular, updated campaigns:
- Treat Me Right
- Syphilis Strikes Back
- Test. Treat.
- GYT: Get Yourself Tested
Our goal is for these campaigns to help you, our prevention partners, address the unique needs of the communities you serve and extend the reach of your STD prevention services.
The campaigns have a variety of STD prevention focuses and audiences for you to choose from, as well as a collection of complementary materials and content you can tailor as you see fit. You may wish to focus on one campaign entirely or to select and curate elements from different campaigns.
Get the most out of this toolkit
This toolkit functions as a guide to help partners understand each campaign’s theme and target audiences, and the corresponding materials available.
It also includes tips on how to use the campaigns to enhance your planned activities, things to consider during implementation, and a collection of helpful resources to use during STD Awareness Month and beyond.
This toolkit does not provide information on how to develop your own campaign nor is it a guide on how to implement a campaign.
However, you can find links to resources that can assist you in those endeavors in the assessment section (see Step 3: Assessment on pg. 7).
Thank you for your continued commitment to STD prevention, for joining us in raising awareness, and making a difference in our communities. We look forward to seeing your work in action across the nation throughout April. We cannot protect the public’s health without you.
Overview of Campaigns
The table below provides an overview of each campaign to help you decide which campaign(s) to implement according to the prevention focus in your community. Click the hyperlinked campaign titles to navigate to the campaign website.
Pointers on Picking the Campaign that Works for You
As you are trying to decide which campaign to use, think of the following:
- What are your objectives?
- How are STDs impacting your community?
- Who is your target audience?
- What behaviors do you want to influence?
- How will you measure campaign success?
Each campaign provides a similar offering of companion materials that you can use throughout April – web and social media graphics, a customizable article, sample social media content, and a widget.
(i.e., a device you can embed on your website that enables information to be displayed on your website without redirecting users. The STD Awareness Month widget is an STD/ HIV testing site locator.)
If you are looking for a campaign with additional planning guidance, Syphilis Strikes Back and Talk. Test. Treat. are your best options.
Both campaigns include suggestions for weekly themes focusing on different campaign-related topics that can be used throughout April.
There is also the option to pull elements from multiple campaigns and create a unique plan of action, or to supplement your current plans, according to your target audience or focus.
Planning for STD Awareness Month
This section provides some tips on how to integrate your chosen campaign(s) into your STD Awareness Month activities.
The following ideas illustrate a unique opportunity to reach and engage with consumers, healthcare providers, and organizations in your community.
It is important to remember that your STD Awareness Month activities should ultimately support your organization’s goals.
In addition to the information below, HIV.gov has a helpful planning guide to assist you while planning for Awareness Day events, activities, and outreach.
Step 1 – Identify Your Target Audience and Primary Goal
Before deciding which activities to implement, be sure to identify who it is you’re aiming to reach and your primary goal.
(e.g., promote chlamydia testing among young women, educate healthcare providers about how congenital syphilis is impacting your community and specific actions they can take, etc.).
Once you identify your audience and particular goal, you can explore the ideas below to help formulate your plans.
Step 2 – Identify Your Activities
Digital campaigns are helpful if your goal is related to awareness and education. There are many mediums (e.g., social media platforms, your organization’s website, local media outlets) available to help you expand your reach to a broader audience.
The CDC STD campaign that you select can supplement any existing digital activities you plan to implement, or it can be your primary activity.
Tips to consider:
- Tailor the campaign content to meet your needs. Insert local data where applicable, customize the sample content with information about local events, and make it relevant to your audience.
- Do not forget your call to action. For example, if you are sharing testing information from Talk. Test. Treat., connect people to a local testing center. CDC’s GetTested website can help you do that.
- When creating content for social media, remember the phrase “Mobile First”! Over 70 percent of social media users access content using a smartphone. For more social media information and resources, visit CDC’s social media website.
- Amplify your messages through outreach. Use the customizable article with an urgent call to action to spread the word about STD prevention to groups such as your partners, local decision makers, or the general public.
- Explore and use the features available on different digital platforms for creative ways to share campaign materials (e.g., Instagram stories, posts on partner websites, email newsletters).
When planning an STD testing event, it is essential to develop a project plan with goals, roles and responsibilities, and ways to measure success. CDC has a simple guide to reference for planning an event.
If you are taking the lead on a testing event, reach out to local organizations you can collaborate with for a more significant impact.
You may also find that other organizations may already be planning a testing event. If so, consider joining forces or sharing plans for a coordinated effort.
Tips to consider:
- Engage your community. When it comes to STD prevention, we rely on many traditional and nontraditional partners (e.g., community organizations, healthcare providers, and businesses) to help achieve goals. Examine your network to determine whom to involve in your event and in what capacity.
- Promote your event! Use campaign graphics to create promotional materials like posters to advertise your event online and in local areas that serve your target audience. The GYT campaign has a collection of materials you can use to help support these efforts.
- Educate people when they come for testing. The Facts brochures can be useful in this instance. Be sure to explore the campaign websites for links to other printable resources as well.
- Link people to care. If a person tests positive for an STD during your event, make sure you have procedures in place to ensure they are made aware of their treatment options and next steps. Information from the Treat Me Right campaign can empower individuals to take the steps towards confidently seeking treatment.
Whether it is a town hall, a 5k run/walk, or a special program with speakers, a community event provides a unique opportunity to connect with many people for an extended amount of time.
If you are not hosting an event, consider attending, promoting, or supporting partner events as a way to help spread your STD Awareness Month messages.
Tips to consider:
- If your organization is planning the event, use materials from the campaigns to display at the event venue/location and share campaign information during the event.
- If you are working in partnership with another organization, supply relevant campaign materials as your organization’s contribution to the event or highlight the campaigns as a helpful resource.
- Tailor the campaign content to meet your needs. You can combine sample messages from the campaigns with information about your event in promotional messages.
- Promote valuable resources. Community event settings, where people can converse and engage with each other, would be an ideal place to share useful resources featured in this toolkit. There will be representation from numerous health professionals and organizations that may not be able to implement the campaigns but could benefit from other resources.
Remember, these are just some of the different activities you can do. You can focus on one or many activities depending on your capacity and goals.
Since activities tend to overlap, the tips from each section can be helpful no matter what you decide to do.
Step 3 – Assessment
After implementing your activities, it is beneficial to assess what worked, what did not, and opportunities for improvement. Analyzing your efforts can help you optimize your positive impact on health and reduce STDs!
When you begin, it is essential to understand the reasons why you want to measure performance. What do you intend to do with the results before beginning? How will you use any lessons learned in the future?
The CDC has a variety of tools and templates you can use to develop your health communication and social marketing campaigns and programs.
For detailed health communication and social marketing evaluation assistance, check out these resources.
If you are interested in more targeted resources, CDC DSTDP has an evaluation manual that is specifically designed for sexually transmitted disease programs and activities.
Use and share these resources to strengthen your organization’s STD prevention and treatment work throughout the year and empower the communities you serve. From this page, you can link to a few highlighted STD prevention resources or find a comprehensive list here.
Download the STD Awareness Month toolkitCdc-pdf to begin planning your outreach activities.
Dear Colleague LetterCdc-pdf: Dr. Gail Bolan, Division of STD Prevention Director, on the importance of awareness and action during STD Awareness Month.