Street artist covers up graffiti of penises with condoms to raise STI awareness

The pictures are accompanied by the address of an NHS website where young people can access free condoms and STI checks

A graffiti artist has made it his mission to spray paint a condom over all of the drawings of penises decorating London’s streets.

A 28-year-old male street artist, who in a Banksy-manner keeps their identity hidden, launched the Protect City Cocks project after noticing the “senseless vandalism” of numerous penises which had been graffiti'd onto the walls of the capital.

When he sees one on a wall he spray paints a condom over it and accompanies it with the slogan “Stay protected on the go” and a website address to the NHS Shine service – a contraceptive and sexual health service for young people based in Newham, east London where people can get free condoms.

According to Public Health England, young people are far more likely to be diagnosed with an STI than older generations. In 2015, 15-24 year-olds accounted for 62 per cent of cases of chlamydia, 52 per cent of gonorrhoea and 51 per cent of cases of genital warts among heterosexual people.

“One night I did some research on STI rates and then the idea just came to me to make stencils of a condom and a link where people can get free condoms,” he told Buzzfeed. “… Instead of just having senseless vandalism, we can inform people about an important issue and give them a laugh at the same time.”

The most recent data on sexually transmitted infections in the UK suggests there were 434,456 new diagnoses in 2015. Last year, Public Health England warned that the country was looming towards a “sexual health crisis” after cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea soared, disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men.

The artist said he tends to see the drawings on public buildings, boarded up windows, bridges and bus stops but says he also receives tip-offs about new sightings via his Instagram account.

“I keep it all in a list of the penises and their locations so I know which ones I haven’t gotten to yet,” he said.

He said he is aware that his drawings constitute as vandalism so are therefore illegal but he has been “strategic” so not to get caught.

The response to his project has been overwhelmingly positive, he says, but should he receive much negative feedback he would consider stopping.

“I just hope that this has a positive impact and that it could get more people to use condoms and eventually lower the STI rates,” he said.

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