News: Feb 2009

Medical Technology Panel on Social Health Livens the Launch of the “O Mission” Film at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center

February 12, 2009, Chicago, Ill. – A panel of medical, academic and nonprofit leaders, to be moderated by Kellee Johnson of The Ballast Group, today discusses the rise of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that have been declining for years. The experts, executives, film cast and VIPs plan to discuss how technology and the short film, “O Mission” is expected to educate and reach the most vulnerable millennial audience in new ways.

Last year there were over one million cases nationwide of chlamydia – a STD and bacterial infection that can lead to infertility. This number is up 7.5% from 2006 according to a CDC report. That’s a record high health officials say. Researchers believe there are another 2.8 million people who don’t know they have it. Almost half the cases affect 15- to 24-year-olds.

Even more troublesome, health professionals expect to see a spike in STDs among those affected by the economic downturn.  When people are out of work, they tend to find other ways to use the extra time. Will the economy be a catalyst for putting vulnerable people into unsafe situations?

Now health officials are looking for new ways to reach young people to slow the rise in STDs. “The industry has been plodding along,” according to Lynn Barclay, president and CEO of the American Social Health Association (ASHA), the nation’s voice on STDs. “New, innovative methods are critical to help educate young adults about STDs. For them, text messaging, the Internet and video are daily ‘must haves.’ The old tools just aren’t working well for this generation,” Barclay says.

One tool, online confidential testing, is expected to increase due to declining insurance coverage, higher deductibles, convenient access to testing, and the confidence preferred when dealing with the stigma of STDs. To help get rid of the stigma associated with STDs, “O Mission,” was created using the latest available digital capabilities that features a 20- and 30-year old sexually vibrant cast that navigates the hook-ups, break-ups, make-ups, and mash-ups in one hot night in the cold city. The cautionary message is: everybody wants it; some lie to get it; and some lies are just little omissions.

“We are changing the way young adults become aware of STDs by encouraging them to have the conversation with their partners. The characters of ‘O Mission’ and our online testing and web forum are attempts to de-stigmatize sexual health,” says Tracey Powell, CEO of Get STD Tested. “Many STDs do not have symptoms. There is a conversion period of up to six months as well. If you have had any potential exposure, be smart and get tested,” says Powell.

The panel includes ASHA’s Lynn Barclay; Rush University Medical Center’s Dr. Kamal Singh; Dr. Gregory Sarlow, President of the Illinois Psychological Association; Emmy nominated Michael Fry (“Cosby” and “Fresh Prince of Belair”) and co-writer, co-producer, Jim Forni (Britney Spears “Stages”).


About The Ballast Group, LLC
The Ballast Group, a national marketing and integrated communication strategies firm, keeps clients tied to best practices to maximize the flow and stability of relationships that influence business growth. The company creates initiatives that help clients analyze business relationships that influence stakeholders and maximize organizational objectives and goals. With a focus on four primary areas, the firm develops partnership strategies; builds accountable and engaged internal teams; deepens current and prospective customer relationships; and creates PR and media opportunities. Visit or contact 312-751-3959.