San Francisco’s new strategy to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) makes use of a teen-friendly medium: text messaging. The program, modeled after a similar service started in the UK, gives users answers to frequently asked questions about STIs, pregnancy, and sexual abuse, directing them to free drop-in clinics and other services at local health centers. “SexInfo,” as the program is called, is being touted for its discretion and immediacy – users reported getting answers within one to two minutes.
“It’s really good to be able to send a question and get them answered without having to ring up, because some people may find this difficult,” explains an anonymous user posting on the website of the UK Brook Advisory Centre’s pioneering program. San Francisco’s Department of Public Health created SexInfo, the first service of its kind in the United States, in response to the escalating rates of gonorrhea reported in the city last year.