My name is Stephen, I was working as a sexual health doctor in Soho, London until March in the world-leading 56 Dean Street clinic. I worked there for nine months before coming back to Ireland to help with the coronavirus response.
Now I’m working as a Medical Senior House Officer in the Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar. I adored working at 56 Dean Street alongside some fantastic colleagues.
Every day we looked after dozens of patients; diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of STIs, prescribing PrEP and PEP, offering guidance around risk reduction of sex and chems use, prescribing HIV medications, and caring for sex workers, adult performers, trans* people, homeless people and IV drug users.
It was wonderfully interesting and at times, outrageously salacious.
One of my roles was to lead the local outreach service and as part of this, I started the world’s first PrEP outreach programme, PrEPBox. Its a radical, liberal, and pragmatic approach to preventing HIV by providing free PrEP in a London Gay Sauna to under 25 year-olds.
56 Dean Street has now launched a huge social media campaign about the unexpected once-in-a-lifetime opportunity coronavirus and social distancing is offering us. In every country around the world, we can interrupt the transmission of HIV in a way that we never could have done before. With social distancing, less sexual partners, and enough time for the testing window period to pass by, now is the time to get tested for HIV, and if needed, get treated.
As soon as we can, all gay men or anyone at risk of HIV in Ireland should attend their local sexual health clinic for a test. We should try to replicate this campaign here in Ireland and capitalise on this very precious chance to end HIV acquisition.
I hope that the sexual health services in Dublin and the rest of Ireland can emulate the quality of service and impact of 56 Dean Street. Having come back to Ireland, I am excited to help tailor our own sexual health services to what gay men and queer people need.
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