PPIL launches new STI pilot for teens

The organization is expanding their outreach to schools and students by 25% with new grant.

CHICAGO – Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) has received a $525,000 grant for their new Chicago Healthy Adolescents & Teens (CHAT) STI testing initiative.

The program, which was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, is aimed at youth 13 to 24 years old for education and testing. PPIL said they hope to increase the number of schools and students they reach by 25% and extend education to parents and guardians.

“Routine screening for STIs is not only a developmentally appropriate intervention for teens and young adults but an essential step toward self-determination and learning to manage their own health,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Chief Medical Officer Jennifer Seo. “As STI rates continue to climb nationwide, we are thrilled to continue our partnership with PPIL and CPS to bring testing directly to high school students.”

CHAT is a tiered program that pilots a series of youth STI testing models in order to design a new program that is effective, scalable, and sustainable. The pilot is intended to gauge the need, interest, and feasibility for students and school administrators.

“We are excited to reach more students this school year,” said Cary Archer, senior manager of education at PPIL. “Sexual and health education empowers young people by increasing their knowledge and developing skills needed to take charge of their health, bodies, identities, and relationships. Having these conversations prepare students to make healthy decisions throughout life.”

PPIL said their education and outreach team cover a range of topics, including birth control and condoms, gender identity and sexual orientation, sexually transmitted infections, sexual violence, and healthy relationships and consent.

The organization said it also routinely partners with communities and schools to offer educational sessions to parents and guardians on various topics, including how to answer and navigate conversations on sexual health, supporting a healthy body image, supporting LGBTQ+ youth, and more. Last year, PPIL educated 5,000 students.

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