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Do It London: Sexual Health Week

sexual health week

Do It London, a campaign led by the London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP) is marking this year’s Sexual Health Week (11-17 September) by teaming up with actors Nathaniel Hall and Joseph Mendez for the specific theme of ‘playing it safe’.

Do It London

Do It London is part of The London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP), a London-wide sexual health promotion initiative. It aims to increase HIV testing and promote prevention choices.

The programme has consisted of three main elements:

  • Public health information and marketing campaigns on combination HIV prevention, under the brand ‘Do It London’ (delivered by Lambeth Council in partnership with commissioned advertising agencies)
  • A free condom and lubricant distribution service for Men who have Sex with Men across Greater London (usually in bars, clubs, pubs, saunas and community sites – with the addition of home-delivery since March 2020, delivered by CNWL Freedoms Shop)
  • Sexual health promotion outreach and rapid HIV testing in commercial and community venues for Men who have sex with men (MSM) delivered by Metro, Spectra, Positive East, The Love Tank.

The LHPP is funded by all London boroughs from a total budget for 2019- 2022 of  £1.063 million. This methodology for funding was developed by the London Directors of Public Health and is based on borough HIV prevalence in 2017.

The LHPP has been hosted, managed and commissioned by Lambeth Council on behalf of all boroughs since 2013, including the delivery of Do It London public health campaigns. It is governed by a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Lambeth and the London boroughs and governed by the LHPP Board. the Do It London campaign asserts that “we know what works and if London continues to make the right decisions the ambitious target to end new HIV infections in the capital by 2030 will become a reality”.

Sexual health: Playing it safe

The theme of this year’s Sexual Health Week is ‘playing it safe’. Nathaniel Hall from Channel 4’s It’s A Sin and Joseph Mendez from BBC’s I Kissed A Boy will use their social media platforms to help raise awareness of the four sure ways to prevent HIV and stay safe with regular HIV testing, use of condoms and PrEP, and being Undetectable = Untransmissible (U=U).

Actor and HIV activist, Nathaniel, is most famed for his role in the hit drama It’s A Sin, which centred on a group of friends growing up in the shadow of the 1980s AIDS crisis. South London actor and influencer Joseph Mendez is most famed for his role in BBC TV show I Kissed A Boy, the first gay dating show in the UK which explores topics such as body image and gay male healthcare.

The UK Health Security Agency’s HIV in the UK 2022 report indicated that the number of new HIV diagnoses in London has fallen by 47% from 1,673 in 2019 to 888 in 2021. Since 2015, Do It London has been promoting HIV testing and combination prevention in the capital. The reduction in diagnoses demonstrates the effectiveness of combination prevention, including increased uptake and frequency of testing, access to PrEP, knowledge of Undetectable and ongoing condom use.

Due to the importance of the messages being promoted by the campaign and the success reflected in the reduction in HIV diagnoses, London boroughs have agreed to extend the work being done by Do It London for a further three years, from April 2024 to March 2027.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan, London Councils’ Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care, said:

“Sexual Health Week is an opportunity to underline the vital importance of HIV prevention in London and it’s fantastic to have Joseph and Nathaniel’s support for Do It London.

“So much great work is being done by London boroughs to prevent HIV in our communities, tackle the stigma surrounding having an HIV diagnosis and ensure diagnoses occur at the earliest possible stage. This is having a significant impact – between 2015 and 2021 new diagnoses in London fell by 66%. In 2021 alone, new HIV diagnoses in London fell by 7%.

“I’m also pleased that London boroughs have renewed their collective commitment to reducing HIV by supporting the London HIV Prevention Programme for the next three years, ensuring that London continues to be a world leader in HIV prevention.

“While I’m proud of what we have achieved so far, we still have a lot to do to achieve our ambition of ending all new HIV diagnoses by 2030. We will continue our efforts through joint working with boroughs, VCS partners, UKHSA, the NHS and the GLA.”

Final thought

The Do It London campaign highlights the four proven ways to prevent HIV: testing, condoms, PrEP, Undetectable = Untransmissible (U=U). Marking sexual health week by focusing on preventing HIV is crucial; HIV is now treatable and preventable, but HIV stigma is still the biggest barrier to people getting tested or accessing PrEP.

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