Tested for STDs? Check-In on Foursquare

Foursquare has over 3 million users, who use their smartphones to check in at various locations, including restaurants, bars, stores, or places of work. The application allows users to share the exciting places they’ve been with their friends.

It also creates a sort of competition — check ins give users points, and checking in to a particular location more days than anyone else in the past 60 days makes you the venue’s mayor. Users can also earn badges for certain check-ins, such as a “Gym Rat” badge for hitting the gym 10 times in a month, or the “Crunked” badge when a user checks in four or more places in a night.

But one badge has a noble goal and a unique advocacy spin. The badge is encouraging Foursquare users to check in at — of all places — local health clinics. Users check in to a clinic to let people know that they’ve been tested for sexually transmitted diseases. MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation combined efforts as a part of the “GYT: Get Yourself Tested” campaign, which will last until the end of September.

To get the badge, users can go to a health care provider or a clinic (MTV’s Get Yourself Tested website makes it easy for users to find nearby clinics by simply entering their ZIP code). Aside from checking in, users must shout the letters “GYT” to their friends in order to get the badge.

MTV hopes that the campaign will remove the stigma attached with getting tested for STDs. Stephen Friedman, MTV’s general manager, also hopes that the badge will result STD-testing becoming more commonplace. MTV hits on a valid point — getting tested for STDs definitely carries a stigma, and people tend to be secretive about their check-ups. Removing the stigma could make people feel more comfortable getting tested for STDs.

Perhaps, by making it into a game, users will be motivated to get tested. It may not yet be cool to publicize when you’re getting tested for STDs, but earning a Foursquare badge may be enough to convince people to get tested. And hopefully, when users see their friends checking in and getting the GYT badge, they’ll want to follow suit.

In a domino effect, the campaign could significantly affect the number of people getting tested for STDs and peoples’ attitudes towards STD testing.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons