What We Can Learn about Gay Sex and Protection from London’s 56 Dean Street

Some great research and initiatives come from the US to prevent the spread of HIV. But there’s still a lot to learn from what other countries and clinics are trying. While there are a number of known methods of HIV prevention, they are only effective if members of high-risk populations know about them and practice them…and that’s the point behind the “Joe series” from London’s 56 Dean Street.

What is 56 Dean Street

56 Dean Street is one of the busiest (and possibly most progressive) sexual health clinics in Europe. The clinic—located at 56 Dean Street in Soho—is operated by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation, so it operates within the confines of NHS (National Health Service) and, to some extent, outside the box.

56 Dean Street works frequently with gay men, providing education about prevention strategies and offering some of the preventative medical interventions (like condoms and PrEP).

About the “Joe Series”

Recently, 56 Dean Street has employed YouTube and social media to expand the reach of its message to gay men. The “Joe series” is a series of six two- to three-minute videos about Joe, a young gay man who likes to have sex, doesn’t want to get HIV but doesn’t consistently practice prevention. (See the full series on 56 Dean Street’s YouTube channel.) In his meetings with Filmmaker Andy, Joe learns more about prevention strategies, tries them in turn and then gives his honest feedback (which includes many of the common complaints and challenges facing gay men trying to stay infection-free).

The Takeaway

The “Joe series” is funny, honest and informative. While it does play on some gay men stereotypes, the humor is not at the expense of gay men. Rather, it simply helps to cut through some of the euphemisms and modesty that makes talking about sex and safe sex so awkward.

We think the “Joe series” is a smart use of social media, and we at UNM Truman Health Services intend to share the “Joe series” as part of our education and prevention resources…until, maybe, we decide to produce our own.