MTV, Foursquare Rewarding Those Who Get STD Check-Ups

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Foursquare, the phone application for telling friends and strangers where you are, is offering a special virtual “badge” through September to people who do just that.

The badge is part of MTV’s “GYT: Get Yourself Tested” campaign. MTV says the idea is to remove the stigma attached to getting checked out for STDs.

Foursquare and similar services use smart phones’ GPS capabilities to locate where users are and what’s around them. Users can then “check in” to a venue by tapping it on a list – or typing in their own.

Foursquare users already receive scout-inspired merit badges for a range of check-in accomplishments. These include “Gym Rat” for hitting the gym 10 times in a month or “Crunked” for checking in to four or more places in a single night.

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Stephen Friedman, the general manager of MTV, said he expects that some people will decide to get the badge despite the social stigma surrounding STDs. And once they do, their friends may, too.

“It only takes a few to get the ball rolling,” he said. The point is to make these checkups as commonplace as going to the dentist or getting a physical.

The badge itself is lime green and black, with the letters “GYT” emblazoned in the middle.

Foursquare users can go to their own health care providers, or they can find nearby clinics by visiting GYT’s website and entering their ZIP code. Once they’ve checked in, users will have to post – or “shout” in Foursquare lingo – the letters “GYT” to their friends.

The GYT campaign launched in 2009. It’s part of a partnership between MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on health care issues. MTV said the campaign has helped increase the number of young people getting tested at Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide.

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