When was the last time you went to a sexual health clinic for an HIV test – with a hookup?
It might sound like your worst, embarrassing nightmare. But it also may prevent you from getting HIV.
That’s what a new short film series from London sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street.
It follows Joe, played by Denholm Spurr, who despite his online persona of popularity and happiness – is actually quite lonely. So when he turns to Grindr to fill the gap, he gets more than he bargained for in his hookup Adam (Taofique Folarin).
But it all turns awry when one of the pair gets a phone call in the morning with news of an STI. The end of the episode sees him march the pair of them to a clinic for an STI check-up.
But in episode two, a simple case of Gonorrhea sees the duo having to deal with a positive HIV test and a month on emergency medication:
‘If I don’t have to take a pill every day, then it’s like it’s not there’
Taofique Folarin who plays Adam says he faces a difficult task of fear and denial in this episode.
‘He is still in the closet but lives in a hyper-masculine environment. By the end of this episode, this makes him feel guilty about putting Joe at risk.’
In episode one, Adam says he doesn’t need to get tested because he doesn’t have sex with people who would have HIV.
‘Only having sex with people who you believe to be HIV-negative is a poor strategy,’ Matthew Hodson, Executive Director of NAM aidsmap tells Gay Star News.
Hodson plays the sexual health worker in the video.
‘But there are several safer sex strategies that gay men can adopt to remain HIV-negative. Not all of them are as effective as each other. Condoms have the additional benefit of preventing other STIs but as a single strategy – PrEP is the most effective. If you take it as directed can be almost 100% effective.’
PrEP is designed to be taken as a daily pill, and you can also take it in recommended dosages before and after sex to reduce your chances of acquiring HIV.
The writer of the series Patrick Cash, who works at 56 Dean Street, says the clinic often sees guys who don’t identify as gay or even bi at the clinic but do have sex with men:
‘They’d never meet up with anybody who says they’re living with HIV on Grindr; but paradoxically, if someone’s living with HIV and is undetectable on treatment there is zero risk of transmission, as opposed to the comparatively far higher risk of sleeping with a guy who doesn’t know his status and isn’t tested regularly.
‘Of course, Adam isn’t aware of any of this information, and therefore his diagnosis is a complete surprise for him.
‘The question is in Episode 2, will he allow the diagnosis to be a turning point in his life, or will he coop it up with his sexuality?’