Do It London isn’t just a campaign. It also delivers over 50 outreach sessions in gay clubs, pubs and saunas around the capital every month, delivering sexual health promotion, free HIV tests and free condoms and lube to men who have sex with men. Here, some of the outreach team from the GMI Partnership, who work to promote Do It London, explain the importance of their work ahead of their monthly outreach session at XXL at Pulse this Saturday (21 Oct).
Paul Steinberg, Lead Commissioner and Programme Manager, London HIV Prevention Programme
“This autumn’s campaign is our most exciting burst of HIV prevention advertising to date, since we began in 2015. The response to the ‘Do it your way’ combination prevention campaign has been overwhelming. Just last week, our animated PrEP adverts reached over 250,000 viewers in the first few days on Facebook and Twitter. That was timed for the run up to clinics opening their doors to the PrEP Impact Trial, which has just begun.
“But as you can see, we are not just a marketing campaign for London. We couldn’t have achieved the reductions in HIV diagnoses in the capital if it weren’t for the invaluable outreach and sexual health promotion work that is delivered by our partners in the GMI Partnership, and of course more broadly in sexual health clinics. And don’t let anyone argue that gay men aren’t using condoms anymore; we gave out more than one million free condom and lube packs across London’s venues, including XXL, last year alone.
“The London HIV Prevention Programme is a unique partnership that spans the community, the NHS and voluntary sector, as well as having our big advertising campaign, and we are starting to see its impact not just in relation to reductions in HIV, but also other STIs. We are leading the way for the rest of England, and doing it using the latest technology to reach people who most need our information – as well as the old-fashioned way of being present in venues across our gay scene, week in week out.”
Quotes from other team members including Phillip Wragg, Gianluca and Yan Mosaheb.
“When we host outreach sessions we bring loads of free condom packs with us, plus lots of different resources like leaflets and other information. If we can we often do surveys too; at the moment we’re working on one about PrEP, asking guys to talk to us about what they think of PrEP, would they take PrEP, and about its benefits and disadvantages.”
“HIV stigma is still widespread today – not just among the general public but also within our own community – despite all the progress and medical advances that have been made. There’s still ignorance surrounding HIV and now, more recently, PrEP, too. We’re here to try and help change the attitudes of the gay community and the wider public.”
“PrEP is intended to provide extra protection from contracting HIV. You decide when you want to use it. It doesn’t have to be a lifestyle choice; it can be event-based, such as leading up to and during a big party weekend or a holiday. Guys who are dead against the idea of taking PrEP and are judgmental to those who take PrEP are usually not that well informed about PrEP. We’re here to explain, face to face, why PrEP is an excellent option to protect you from HIV.”
“Questions guys ask us at outreach sessions vary, from where they can get tested for HIV and where they can get a full STI screening, to information about PEP, PrEP, different types of condoms, how to use condoms correctly, and also how they can motivate themselves to have safer sex.”
“Undetectable = uninfectious is the same as ‘treatment as prevention’; if you are undetectable you cannot pass on the virus. We understand that it’s such a new thing for gay men to get their heads around, because for years we’ve been given a different message. And so guys usually want clarification about U=U from a professional. There’s still a lot of work to do to get the message out there and help people be aware and understand it.”
“When I started volunteering I fast became very passionate about the cause. I wanted to make a difference and I have been doing this voluntary work for over five years now. I still enjoy it and I have a fantastic team.”
“We’re always looking for Do It London volunteers. Three different charities form the GMI Partnership, but if people want to get involved with this type of work then all they have to do is simply message us online at doitlondon.org/contact”
“We need to continue engaging with the community, and venues like XXL and bars and generally places where people gather are great ways to share the information we offer, because not everyone wants to go to a clinic, and so we go to them.”
Venues where you can meet the guys from Do It London
The Duke of Wellington 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month 4-6pm
Clonzone Soho 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month 4-6pm
Chariots Vauxhall 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month 2-5pm
Sailors Sauna 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month 3-6pm
Ku Bar Frith Street Every Saturday 2-4pm
Chariots Waterloo Every Monday 4.30pm-7pm
Clonezone Earls Court 1st Wednesday of the month 5pm-7pm
Vault 139 2nd and 4th Friday of the month 4.30pm-6.30pm
The Locker Room Sauna 2nd and 4th Friday of the month 4-6pm