Two Mattapan teenagers have been selected as the winners of the Get Reel: Check Yourself video contest, sponsored by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Public Health Commission to raise awareness among youths about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Heidi Hillary Little, 16, and Anastasia Tatiana Walker, 15, will receive a cash prize of $750 and their video, “Avoid STIs: Use Protection,” will be reshot by a production company and aired next month as a public service announcement for Comcast subscribers on MTV, BET, and FX.
A seven-judge panel of youths and public health professionals selected the winning video, a comedy skit set in a makeshift classroom where a teacher offers her students instruction about STIs. One student confuses STIs with the SAT, the college entrance exam, and winds up getting infected. The message of the one-minute video is that youths should use condoms to reduce their risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
In Boston, Chlamydia infection is most common among young people ages 15 to 19, according to the 2009 Health of Boston report. New cases of Chlamydia among Boston residents rose 66 percent between 1999 and 2007. About 75 percent of people infected with Chlamydia have no symptoms. Young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 are also at greatest risk for gonorrhea infection. Half of all new gonorrhea cases among Boston residents in 2007 occurred in people under age 25.
The video contest was run on YouTube and the winners were announced in a video posted on the Public Health Commission’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/HealthyBoston. The competition is part of a larger public awareness campaign on sexually transmitted infections that Mayor Menino and the Public Health Commission will roll out this summer, targeted to Boston youths.
The second place winners are Amy Duong, 16, of Roslindale, and Jonathan Montanez, 17, of Jamaica Plain, who will share a $350 cash prize. Third place, which carries a $150 award, was a tie: the winners are Richard Jean Louis, 19, of Roxbury and Tykia S. White, 19, of Dorchester.
All of the top finishers will appear in the classroom scene of the winning video when it is reproduced and airs next month on the three cable stations.