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L.A. Schools Encourage Students To Text Their STD Status

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LAUSD is encouraging students to use a confidential test-and-text service. (Photo by Champion Studio/Shutterstock)
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Keeping teens STD-free is a great goal, but a new program embraced by L.A. schools to encourage students to share their HIV and STD statuses via cell phone is sure to be controversial.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is taking part in a program to educate middle and high school students about how to share their HIV and STD statuses via text message, CBS reports.

The services are provided by Qpid.me, which privately texts statues of test results. You can then choose to share your status that you—for example—tested negative for chlamydia, with potential partners.

The program debuted earlier this year, with health teachers in grades 7 through 12 apparently given the option to share it with their students. It is not an official part of the district's curriculum, but Qpid.me posters are being displayed in classrooms to encourage students to use it as a "supplement," officials said.

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According to Qpid.me's website, L.A. schools that have adopted the program include Lincoln High School, Metropolitan High School, Roosevelt High School, Jefferson High School, and Holmes Avenue School.

The service is free and available to students as young as 12. It helps them find a “teen-friendly” testing site, access their results online, and then confidentially share their status if they choose.

California law allows for children 12 or older to consent to medical care for the prevention of sexually transmitted disease without needing parental sign-off.

Tim Kordic, Program Manager for the LAUSD HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit and listed as one of Qpid.me's advisors, said the program is perfect for teens. “They not only want this type of resource; they are excited about it. We have the opportunity to avoid misuse and take advantage of the technology so it works for us.”

While parents might worry this will encourage their kids to become more sexually active, a 2011 CDC study found that 39 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse at least once, with 6 percent doing so before they were 13.

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The services are confidential, but there are testimonials on the site, including one from former Miss California, Tami Farrell, who says, "This is awesome! I signed up in 3 minutes and had my results in a few days. I wish they could do this for all my medical records." She's also a spokesperson for the company, appearing in their 3-minute YouTube video geared towards educators.