Are Emojis The Future Of Sexual Health?

We all know that some emojis are great for sexting — I'm pretty sure it's what the eggplant emoji was invented for — but now the sexier emojis are being used for a more laudable purpose. NYC Health & Hospitals will be using emoji in their social media posts to try to encourage young people to get sexual health advice and services.

Aimed at 12-21 year olds, the posts will include everyone's favorite eggplant emoji, along with the text: "Need to talk to someone about 'it'?" and others, like the good old birds and the bees emojis. They will be linked to the NYC Health & Hospitals Youth Health website and will hopefully give young people an outlet for sex education and services that they may not be getting elsewhere. According to the site:

"If you’re 12 or older, we’re here to help you no matter what. That means we’re here for you regardless of your ability to pay, immigration status, or sexual orientation. NYC Health + Hospitals offers safe and confidential YouthHealth services to all adolescents. Whatever your health needs."

It's something that young people don't always realize they're entitled to — especially the confidential part. "Young people have particular health care requirements and NYC Health + Hospitals offers the services young people need in a confidential and non-judgmental environment,” Dr. Ram Raju President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals said in a press release. “Whether it’s birth control, pregnancy testing, emergency contraception or depression screening, the public health system has affordable services in local community health centers, where we speak your language, understand your culture and respect your privacy."

I remember when I was a teenager being so torn between being open about my sexual activity to my doctor and fear of my (overbearing isn't even the *word*) father finding out. Being reassured that there was genuinely confidential help available would have made such a difference to my stress levels, not to mention I probably would have been tested a lot more frequently and just generally been safer.

There are so many questions that can come up when you're newly sexually active. Dr. Warren Seigel, the chairman of the department of pediatrics and director of adolescent medicine at Coney Island Hospital, told the New York Times: "It can be something as simple as, ‘Why is this growing, why isn’t this growing?' ... 'Does this mean I’m gay or lesbian?' or 'I’m thinking of having sex but I’m not so sure.'"

If you don't have comprehensive sex education in schools or you're too scared or uncomfortable to ask for help at home, there's a good chance you have nowhere to go for these answers. If an eggplant or a peach can get young people's attention enough to show them where there's help, I'm all for it.

Images: Courtesy of NYC Health + Hospitals