This daring PrEP video puts the sexy back in HIV prevention

Leo Forte, Chris Hanner, and Rock Evans in a scene from “The PrEP Project.”



“PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy that deals with sex, namely bareback sex,” says film student Chris Tipton-King on the eve of HIV Testing of the June 27 National HIV Testing Day. “And I got tired of people tip-toeing around that fact.”

The young Bay Area resident had never seen a PrEP video that didn’t somehow sanitize sex or the desires of gay men. “Everything I had seen about PrEP just felt… awkward.”

And so, without a dime of governmental funding, Chris used an assignment for his master’s degree in cinema to create “The PrEP Project,” a four-part video series that speaks honestly – and quite explicitly – to gay men about their sex lives and why more of them should be using PrEP.

The result is a sexy video series on the topic. It’s exactly what PrEP advocates have been waiting for, because it isn’t beholden to stiff health department guidelines or even political correctness.

Stop everything and watch it right this minute, as long as your boss doesn’t mind some ass and explicit sex talk. Each episode is only five minutes.

Did we mention the series features leatherman sexpert Eric Paul Leue?

The first classic prevention message that Chris didn’t promote in the video was “use a condom every time.” The vast majority of people, gay or straight, do not use condoms consistently. “The rate of consistent condom use among gay men has been estimated to be as low as 17%,” Chris says, “and PrEP is the answer to that. But we still conflate condom use with morality, which just isn’t helpful.”

Instead, the film speaks to the sex lives of gay men as they actually are.

The initial backlash against PrEP as an alternative to condoms – the “Truvada Whore” argument — doesn’t bother Chris. He knows where it comes from. “Condoms became an emotional topic,” he says, after a generation that provided few other options. “Now that there is an alternative, people have a hard time letting that message go.”

Rest assured, “The PrEP Project” outlines the risk of other sexually transmitted infections that can occur without condoms. It just refuses to draw a false equivalency between the consequences of HIV and those of other STI’s.

When the first video in the series launched on Facebook, it got more than 40,000 views in the first day. That is, until Facebook pulled it down for violating their irksome, often vague community standards.

“That really pissed me off,” Chris admits. “I should have expected it because it is somewhat graphic sex, but I believe the people who pulled it didn’t like the message. It wasn’t about the sex. I got a lot of hate mail.”

Lucky for you, we’ve included the entire series right here. Enjoy!



Want to know more about PrEP or ask questions to experts and advocates? Check out the PrEP Facts: Rethinking HIV Prevention and Sex page on Facebook.


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