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London’s G-A-Y smashes HIV test world record

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  1. Jock S. Trap 2 Dec 2012, 1:25pm

    A very positive event and one that is welcomed in the fight to get people aware.

    Lets hope that all of those who participated are negative but if some are then their lives have been saved. Lets encourage more of this and more people to get tested.

  2. Alex Sparrowhawk 2 Dec 2012, 1:42pm

    HIV is a manageable condition when you know your status and consultants can regularly assess your health. I’ve been living a normal life with HIV for three years and my dreams and plans have not needed to change. Everyone should get regularly tested!

    1. Paul Halsall 21 Dec 2012, 11:23am

      It is certainly better now than in the past, but to say it is a manageable condition is just wrong. Meds sometimes stop working. They often give you the shits. Effirenz/Sustiva causes memory losss. Other drugs cause you bones to get brittle. You are unlikely to live much past 60.

      Stop making it appear easy.

      1. Meds generally stop working because of poor adherence, which although can be difficult can be overcome with the help of your clinic. I would agree that Efavirenz is not a pleasant drug & therefore I always encourage anyone who suffers with side effects to discuss changes with their Consultant. As +ve people we have to take a pro-active approach to our care & treatment, there is no reason why anyone should suffer with debilitating side effects these days. As for changes in bone metabolism HIV itself is implicated here as is Tenofovir, anyone taking Tenofovir are well monitored for both Bone & Kidney problems.

        With prompt diagnosis & treatment +ve individuals have a near normal life expectancy – late diagnosis can reduce life expectancy considerably. I never understand why it is necessary to constantly suggest +ve people are all doomed, in my experience & that of many others life goes on as it used to, except when one is honest about status we have to deal with stigma & fear!

  3. So 1 in 7 gay men in London supposedly have HIV, yet in a London test of 745 men, only 6 tested positive~?

    How unseemly~

    1. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 2:41pm


    2. 2 infections per 1000 people is deemed to be a high prevalence rate for HIV in this case the infection rate is 8 per 1000 people.

      The 1 in 7 figure relates to gay men who regularly are out on the gay scene in London – personally I do not think expressing the figures in this format is helpful to anyone.

      There were at the end of 2011 according to the HPA 8100 gay men across the UK with undiagnosed HIV. Given that London, Birmingham, Manchester & Brighton all have high HIV prevalence I think we can assume that there is a high concentration of untreated virus amongst these communities which is feeding the epidemic!

      Consistent condom use together with regular testing will win the day and the HPA figures for 2011 confirm that the undiagnosed proportion amongst gay men is at last showing a decline from 25% to 20%. Maybe it’s a blip, lets hope not!

      1. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 3:06pm

        How can they know the numbers of undiagnosed cases though?

        1. Undiagnosed estimates are arrived at by testing residual samples of blood taken to screen for syphilis taken at GU clinics across the UK. These samples are anonymous & and unlinked to any individual. The UK has a very good HIV surveillance system in place & provides very accurate data about HIV prevalence within the UK.

          1. How disgusting, when a person’s sample is tested positive they don’t think those people deserve to know. If its going to be tested for HIV anyway then don’t tell people that they can opt out of it.

          2. The residual blood samples are anonymous so it is impossible to link a particular sample to an individual. I don’t really understand why you think such a practice is disgusting – it provides very valuable information.

            If people want an HIV test they should have it included as part of a general STI check up,or visit a clinic specifically for that reason.

          3. What im saying is that if you are going to test the blood anyway for HIV then the person deserves to know that they been found positive – don’t give them the option of opting out at the clinic, There is clearly a need for this to be brought be in because as you have said that the residual samples are tested – if you find out later “whoever this was is positive, o well!” may provide you with information for your statistics but it does nothing for those who don’t know that they are positive and their future partners.

          4. Jamie

            The person whose anonymous sample is tested may not want to know they have HIV. Telling someone when they have not requested a test or asked for a result does not seem ethical.

            People know they can have free HIV tests on the NHS. Whether or not they choose to have one is their decision.

          5. Gazza,

            They are at a sexual health clinic you can assume that they would like to know that they have a STD, no? Ignorance may be bliss mentally but they can still pass it onto others, its irresponsible. Just bundle HIV testing in with all the others.

          6. Jamie

            The residual samples that are tested for HIV would have already been made anonymous by the time that test was completed – the blood was originally taken for a syphilis test. This is a standard procedure for monitoring infection prevalence, in some studies blood spots are used to detect other infections.

            I understand what you are saying that it seems immoral to allow an individual to leave a clinic with undiagnosed HIV, but if they have not consented to having an HIV test then their choice has to be respected. I am not sure that compulsory testing would be helpful but many clinics now have an opt out policy as opposed to an opt in policy. This essentially means that the individual is told that the standard batch of tests includes an HIV test – the individual can at that point opt out if they so wish.

            I can never understand why someone would get checked for everything but HIV, to me it’s a no brainer, but this thread has yet again shown there is a reluctance to test!

          7. @W6

            When I visit the GUM clinic I do not consent to each individual test I consent to a full sexual health screening. What I’m suggesting is that instead of offering HIV as a separate standalone test it should be included in the standard tests there shouldn’t be an option to opt out (I mean they don’t even need to take an extra vial of blood if the residuals are tested).

            The reason people opt out and refuse HIV tests are becase they think it only infects gay and black people (which the media keeps telling them, that they are not ‘high-risk’ by not targeting any of the ads at them and ignoring them). It is a miracle that most heterosexual men even reach a clinic all the guys i have tried to make go have been right babies and think they should only go when they feel symptons.

          8. You may not be asked the question for each test but I imagine the line will go “we are going to do a batch of blood tests, one of which will be for HIV, is that ok?” Even pregnant women have to give their consent to have an HIV test included in their anti-natal screening.

            As much as I agree people should be tested for HIV we cannot & should not make it compulsory, otherwise those people who are reluctant to test for HIV will not get treated for the other STI’s, & we have to respect the choice of the individual.

            We can do better by offering HIV tests when people join a new GP practice or when they are admitted to A&E for example, as well as expanding the access to home sampling methods. I get what you are saying but I don’t think it will ever happen & I would not want to see compulsory testing in GU clinic settings.

        2. , please note the date published 20th April 2012

      2. Sister Mary Clarence 2 Dec 2012, 11:50pm

        Dress it up how you like, but it shows what a worthless PR exercise this was. It cost a fortune no doubt and it didn’t reach the group that needed to be targeted – those walking round with undiagnosed HIV.

        A more targeted but probably less high profile exercise at one of the saunas or sex clubs would have probably teased out more people who really needed to be tested rather than this stunt.

        Utterly pointless, other than to drum up extra til receipts for Jeremy Joseph

        I’m disgusted.

        1. Perhaps if you had read the full stories about this event SMC you would have realised that Jeremy Joseph agreed to give £10 to the Elton John Aids Foundation for every test completed. Given that 745 tests were completed EJAF will now be in receipt of £7450 courtesy of Jeremy Joseph.

          Knowing the staff at 56 Dean Street I am very sure that most of them gave their time for free to support this event thus keeping the costs down. You may also like to know that 56 Dean Street undertake weekly outreach testing at Sweatbox Sauna / Gym together with weekly testing at GAY. All this information is readily available on the net so it would seem to me sensible to perhaps do some research prior to posting judgmental statements.

          56 Dean Street is the busiest HIV / Sexual Health Clinic in the UK so I am sure that Dr Alan McOwen the Clinical Lead there knows a fair bit of how to best target resources to get the maximum outcomes. He is certainly not the sort of individual to pull a stunt!

    3. Alex Sparrowhawk 2 Dec 2012, 3:19pm

      This sort of fairly ‘public’ testing is going to give a lower result than the average predictions. The majority of people who test positive ‘don’t know’ they were infected but that doesn’t meant to say they’re not aware they’ve not been taking risks. I imagine many people who are afraid of a positive result, who have a lot of sexual partners, are likely to have avoided taking part in an event such as this.

      1. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 3:22pm

        Exactly – which kind of negates the actual point of the exercise in the first place…

      2. To me it says that ‘1 in 7 gays in London have HIV’ is a bogus assertion.

        1. I would refer you to the answer above on HIV prevalence; by all means question the data but don’t assume the risk of acquiring HIV is less than it is. With up to 8100 MSM in the UK infected with HIV and not knowing it there is a very large pool of untreated virus within the MSM community. This is why testing is so important!

      3. Samuel B. 3 Dec 2012, 3:17pm

        …thereby making this jamboree a totally futile and ill-thought out exercise that has swallowed heaven knows how much to publicise that could have been put to far, far better use.

        In other words same old same old.

        1. You may think diagnosing 6 individuals as futile Samuel, but as you know (hopefully by now) early diagnosis increases life expectancy which has to be a good thing. Ok no one ever wants a positive diagnosis but these 6 individuals will now receive the care they need so how is this futile?

          The cost of organizing this event has been partly borne by G-A-Y, so where is the problem with that. I don’t know the details of the arrangements but I am very sure that as a joint venture costs will have been looked at & kept to a minimum. HIV service resources are very tight in London & I am confident that Dr Alan McOwen the Lead Clinician will have undertaken the appropriate cost analysis to ensure this outreach event would have a benefit to the health of gay men, why else do it? (not sure that is a good question to ask).

          From my experience of the staff I come in contact with at 56 Dean Street, they are all dedicated to providing the best possible outcomes for gay men in London.

          1. Actually I think the testing day stunt just proves that Mr Joseph has far more money than sense, and that if he really wanted to make a difference he could have used that money to pioneer an new and impactful genuine HIV press campaign of a kind that served as an effective deterrent to unsafe sex two decades ago.

            Had he had the foresight to do so then perhaps a shed load more than 6 people who are positive today would still be negative.

            As it was, the GAY stunt was all about Mr Joseph posturing and boasting about how much cash he was going to raise for the EJAF:- an outfit that expends well over half of its income on staff costs and expenses, and whose tax exempt status enables various wealthy US donors to minimise their year end tax bills.

            Some achievement!

  4. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 2:56pm

    I voiced this concern to Ben Cohen after seeing the Pink News proclamation on Twitter. He then widened the debate to Jeremy Joseph and 56 Dean Street.

    I must say that both Ben Cohen and Jeremy Joseph have both done sterling work over the years in the field of HIV awareness and prevention work. 56 Dean Street also does admirable work in this field.

    I was shocked that Ben decided to close the debate effectively with ‘800,000 people read Pink News and practically nobody has complained’ somehow believing that this contradicted my point. He basically suggested I stop reading Pink News rather than taking onboard what I was saying.

    Not only was this a ridiculous assertion but, given that we have been following each other on Twitter for some considerable time, it was churlish and immature.

    The fact remains that inviting people to test to ‘beat a world record’ is a crass, insensitive and stupid way to test their HIV status.

    1. Spanner1960 2 Dec 2012, 7:50pm

      If Ben Cohen has done so much in the field of HIV/A|DS – why is it his rag of a website refuses people to even mention the term?

      This is totally out of order.

    2. Sister Mary Clarence 2 Dec 2012, 11:52pm

      “The fact remains that inviting people to test to ‘beat a world record’ is a crass, insensitive and stupid way to test their HIV status.”

      I couldn’t agree more!!!

  5. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 3:04pm

    My thoughts go out to those who received a positive result.

    Might I suggest that next year, the powers that be initiate a more pro-active campaign to encourage people to test which does not use the testees as pawns in an unseemly media circus which only belittles the important work that those organisations taking part usually engage in…

  6. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 3:07pm

    One of my postings has not gone thru for some reason

    1. Spanner1960 2 Dec 2012, 7:51pm

      It is because you cannot mention A|DS – this sh|tehawk of a website refuses to display it.

  7. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 3:20pm

    3 postings have not fine thru now

    Each of them detailing my criticism of promoting this event as a ‘world record attempt’…

    Yet my other posts are fine – suspicious

    1. You can’t block me on here as you did on twitter yesterday Staircase. For the benefit of other readers you were downright rude to Ben & 56 Dean Street. You accused me of being insensitive but would or could not explain your statement.

      As another commentator has said living with HIV is not the end of the world what can be the end for some people is that they test far too late to benefit from drug therapy. You can also go & read an account from an individual who tested yesterday at G-A-Y, he had nothing but praise for the staff & also decided to test very publicly to try to reduce the stigma & fear that still goes along with testing.

      You were way off the mark yesterday with your negative comments on this event – I hope this this continues as we need to encourage testing to make it a normal activity for everyone. You may wish to hide away from either taking a test or even your own HIV status, but increasingly +ve people are beginning to be totally out about their status to break stigma

      1. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 8:13pm

        Oh it’s YOU!

        Funny how you’re generally WAY more intelligent and empathic I here than you are on Twitter where, actually, YOU were rude.

        Anyone is welcome to read what I tweeted yesterday (and u like you they may actually read what I said)

        I’m not going to stand by and hoorah an event that I feel is deeply flawed just to make you happy.

        Once again I’m going to say that you have absolutely no right to start demanding when or if I or anyone else has tested, nor what the outcome of what those tests may or may not be.

        When or it someone chooses to test is actually none of your bloody business.

        Encourage people to test as much as you can but shut the fcvk up in demanding – it’s completely wrong.

        I find you rude, insensitive, belligerent and completely ignorant as it goes.

        For anyone that wishes to read what I said, read my tweets on @Staircase2

        1. Paul in Brighton 2 Dec 2012, 8:25pm

          I haven’t read the tweets, and quite honestly haven’t the time.

          But I must say, as I said on the earlier thread regarding 56 Dean Street, I think this is a wonderful, and potentially life saving initiative and clearly this view is supported by the many people who went and got tested. I wasn’t one of them as I wasn’t in London, but would have, had I been there.

          I think it’s sad that such an important subject such as this one has generated so much bad feeling as has been highlighted in this post.

          I’d urge you to put your differences aside, forget allegations of rudeness and so on and remember that for many of us, this time of the year represents a moment in time for us to remember those we loved and lost.

          This isn’t a time for disagreements or in-fighting.


          1. Sister Mary Clarence 2 Dec 2012, 11:57pm

            Yes, that’s all well and good, but 56 Dean Street, I assume, is working to a budget and money spent on this isn’t going to be spent on other more effective elements of its service provision I would guess.

            Its a stunt.

            Was there data to show that there were high concentrations of gay people with undiagnosed HIV particularly in the Compton Street area as opposed to other areas where the risk factors are higher – like saunas, sex clubs, of clubs with high numbers using recreational drugs?

            Clearly I’m no expert, and there are others on here who think they are, but it would seem logical to me to target resources to areas where they are most going to be effective.

          2. Paul from Brighton 3 Dec 2012, 9:47am

            Sister Mary Clarence,

            I don’t really want to get drawn into a debate I know little about, my point was that I don’t think having contributors slag each other off is doing anyone any good.

            However, as for this being a stunt.

            For many years now the NHS have based their breast screening clinics in specially adopted exhibition trailers in Tesco Car Parks.

            As I’m a continual objector to Tescos and their ethos, I took this up with the NHS and I was surprised when I contacted them how effective this campaign has been, simply as it is run in Tesco Car parks.

            Their view is that this is far more high-profile than simply a wall poster at the local GP’s surgery where only those who are visiting will see it.

            As I said, I’m not an expert, but I think that stunts can and do work.

          3. Paul, just because the NHS has been resorting to similar desperate, cheap gimmicks doesn’t make it right, does it?

            In fact you could argue that the NHS is barely putting a foot right these days, and any new initiative it comes up with should be viewed with a good degree of scepticism.

      2. Staircase2 2 Dec 2012, 8:17pm

        And secondly, 56 Dean St agreed with me

        Ben was just stuck into the stupid corner of his own making. I wasn’t rude to him at all – as people will see if they read what I tweeted…

        You on the other hand are a different kind of stupid – again as people will see if they read what I tweeted and the responses you made…

        1. You were being critical of this event for no reason – you had a bee in your bonnet about how the event was publicised, yet you could not see past your nose the importance of the event.

          I was not the one to use the f word in reply to Ben…….I get your frustration, but you are out of touch with what this event was all about. It was World A!DS Day and you had to wade in with your unjust criticism.

          With the number of tweets you have sent I would have expected you to have many more followers, but I guess as was demonstrated last night, like a petulant child you didn’t want to debate you just blocked me – very adult of you.

          No one who tested at G-A-Y was forced to, they did so because they wanted to. Why are you so defensive about testing, this came across in your tweets last night.

          1. Sister Mary Clarence 3 Dec 2012, 12:00am

            ‘unjust criticism’ – can you explain exactly what unjust criticism is for us maybe.

            I thought is was a total waste of money personally.

            As someone who pays into the NHS through my taxes, I’d like them to be a bit more strategic in future and ditch the gimmicks

          2. Staircase2 3 Dec 2012, 1:04am

            I made it very clear what my reasons were repeatedly.

            That you clearly chose to ignore them says more about your own position than it does about mine…

            What I said to Ben, in reaction to him effectively telling me that I should stop reading Pink News if I didn’t like the way they are currently twisting their headlines, was “what the fcvk was that about?”

            Which I think was perfectly valid actually and I completely stand by that.

            Perhaps you should declare your own vested interest in this event seeing as how it’s YOU who seems unable to see last your nose…

            You clearly ‘don’t get my frustration’ because I don’t have any in this matter – I simply disagree that this was the right way to go about raising HIV testing awareness.

            And since when does someone’s ability to voice their opinion have to be based on how many followers they have?!

            I maintain that calling for people to test for HIV as some drive to break a world record is crass, insensitive and counter productive

          3. I have no vested interest in this but I am happy to declare that I am a patient of the Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. What irks me about many of the comments on these pages is that there is never any praise for the work that goes on to try & improve the health of gay men. THT & others are often criticised for their prevention campaigns, likewise a different organisation comes up with a novel way of promoting HIV testing & once again it is shot down in flames – I really do not understand where all the anxiety around HIV testing comes from

            Much of the content written on these pages would be more at home in the Daily Wail, as is the rhetoric that often is written about HIV here. It seems to me that many commentators are the “worried well” when it comes to HIV, yet the very same people are the ones who are the least clued up about the subject.

            I still believe you were wrong to have a pop at Ben on Twitter & why carry on your argument here – playing to the gallery no doubt

  8. Out of 745 people tested at a gay venue there was only 6 positive results thats less then 1% …

    perhaps this means that HIV testing need to stop focusing on MSM and test the rest of society who have never had one before.

    1. Spanner1960 2 Dec 2012, 7:57pm

      …or maybe the ones that had been shagging around were either too scared or too complacent to bother. One cannot just look at the sample figures and make an immediate judgement. The last statistics stated that gay men were 111 times more likely to be infected than heterosexual ones.

      Get off you high horse and face facts, we are still HIV’s #1 target, and before you come out with some crappy little soundbite like “HIV doesn’t discriminate” – yes it does, it infects anybody stupid enough to shag around unprotected.

      1. HIV doesn’t pick and choose who it infects it doesn’t have a brain to make those kind of decisions. It infects everyone who has sex without a condom not just gays therefore gays can’t be its “#1 Target”.

        1. Staircase2 3 Dec 2012, 1:09am

          That’s not true
          It doesn’t ‘infect everyone who has sex without a condom’
          It infects those people it infects…

          Having unprotected sex WITH someone who is positive increases your chances of becoming infected.

          The idea is that as we do not know who is positive and who isn’t, that we use the same precautions with everyone we have sex with in order to protect OURSELVES.

        2. Spanner1960 3 Dec 2012, 5:29am

          Yes, this is true, but a) anal sex is considerably more risky, and it is practised by many more gays than straights, and b) gay men are far more promiscuous.

          Everyone is capable of catching it, but that doesn’t mean all our chances are equal.

          Oh, and it does infect some people that wear condoms as well.
          That’s why it is called “safer” sex, not “safe.”

          1. Well i know a lot of straight men who are obsessed with anal sex and are a lot more promiscuous then me purely because theres a lot more straight women out there.

      2. Its not a “high horse” to question statistics and how they were arrived at, its what I have been taught on my degree to not accept anything at face value to question any statement for validity, does it actually state what it claims or does it state something else? Is there anything which skewed these statistics? What social and economic considerations come into play etc… I have reached the conclusion that the figures whilst they cannot be ignored don’t represent fully what they claim to purely because straight men do not generally go to the GUM clinic unless they have a sympton whereas gay men are encouraged to go every 6 months or every time they change partners… it is inevitable that will skew the statistics and say gay men are more likely to be infected because they are being tested more.

    2. Prevention 2 Dec 2012, 9:34pm

      If you don’t agree with W6 and his views you are deemed dismissive of HIV prevention which should target all the population. HIV doesn’t discriminate so will 56 Dean Street be going to the straight bars of London?? Surely prevention is better than cure?/

      He shouldn’t be asking people if they have tested either, that is none of his business.

      I don’t understand why the World Record for testing is such an important goal – I hope the people with positive results are given the care and attention in an environment suited to testing?

      1. 56 Dean Street is part of the Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust who undertook the same outreach testing at Westfield Shopping Centre & in Lyric Square Hammersmith over the two days prior to WAD, so this seems to suggest to me that the Trust wanted to raise testing awareness across the piste. What have all the locations they used have in common – HIGH FOOTFALL which means that they were able to get as many people involved & to promote just how quick & easy taking an HIV test is.

        There is no agenda here to just target gay men, but we have to be aware that HIV is concentrated within the gay community, that is not to say that HIV should just be seen as something that affects gay men.

        Why is it so frowned upon to ask someone if they have had an HIV test, in the context of a Twitter discussion about HIV? Anyone who is precious about being asked a simple question needs to think twice about putting themselves out there on Twitter! If you want privacy don’t go on Twitter – simples!

        1. Samuel B. 3 Dec 2012, 3:35pm

          W6, only 1 in 100 people tested positive, and from your own estimate of 8,100 undiagnosed cases in the gay community we are now supposed to believe that there are 25,000 such cases in the UK, which implies that there are 16,900 undiagnosed heterosexual people, possibly comprising mostly of Sub Sahara African immigrants.

          I would love to believe that gay men are now in the minority of undiagnosed HIV cases, and indeed the GAY testing day stunt would indicate there is cause for some optimism to believe that HIV is not out there in the great numbers we have been indoctrinated into believing with all the incessant demands to test and keep on testing.

          I know several acquaintances who have turned off from the call to testing message as they believe the whole agenda in HIV prevention has been turned upside down and that HIV prevention is now focused almost entirely on managing the disease’s spread with treatment as opposed to strong messages serving as a deterrent to unsafe sex itself.

          1. The prevalence of HIV in the UK population as a whole is estimated at 0.2%. The prevalence of HIV infection amongst the cohort who took a test at G-A-Y is 0.8% this is 4 times the concentration of HIV than in the population as a whole.

            To look at this another way as the HPA do, if there are 2 cases of HIV per thousand of the UK population, HIV prevalence is deemed to be high & therefore the virus is concentrated in such areas. As you say roughly 1 in 100 tested positive, this extrapolates to a prevalence of 10 per thousand of the UK population. This confirms that the concentration of HIV amongst those tested at GAY was 5 times the National average.

            This is clear evidence that the initiative was worthwhile & that the target demographic was chosen correctly.

          2. With regard to the estimate for undiagnosed HIV infections the figures published for 2011 by the HPA have updated the position on this:

            In 2010 the est for undiagnosed HIV for the total population was 22,200 The estimate for MSM was 10,000: In 2011 the figures were 22,600 & 8100 respectively.

            What we see here is a leveling off in the undiagnosed fraction – this would suggest that more people are testing, particularly amongst MSM (undiagnosed down from 10,000 to 8100).

            If we look at the Heterosexual UK born undiagnosed stats these are as follows:

            2010 the estimate was 4,800 in 2011 this had increased to 6,600 which is not that far behind the figures for MSM. The undiagnosed % for MSM = 35% UK born Hetero 29% Non UK Hetero = 32% IDU = 2% Unknown Group 2%

          3. To take a wider perspective HIV prevalence in the UK is 0.2% in the US it is 0.6% & in many parts of Europe the prevalence is higher than that in the UK – this to me suggests that in the grand scale of things the UK is doing the right thing when it comes to HIV.

            Of course more needs to be done & you are correct to say that managing HIV at a population level is about testing & then treatment where necessary – we have not quite got to the test & treat scenario as they are moving towards in the states.

            80% of all new infection in MSM come from the undiagnosed fraction which is often quoted as 1 in 4 (25%) – the most recent figures now suggest that this has reduced to a level of 1 in 5 (20%). I suspect health care providers & other bodies will prefer to quote the higher figure until such times we can identify the trend, but for me there is a glimmer of hope that HIV infections within MSM have turned a corner. We will have to wait till this time next year to be sure!

          4. So please explain where the well-worn “1 in 7 gay men on the London scene have HIV” figure that is trotted out on a regular basis comes from, then?

            By that estimate we would reasonably have expected to see nearer to 100 new cases of undiagnosed HIV recorded, surely?!

            Reassuring to note you referring to one in five not knowing their pos status:- surely a step in the right direction.

          5. One could suggest that you research this yourself Samuel rather than demand I provide the explanation for you, but I am happy to oblige!

            People who have HIV(those who are diagnosed) would not be going for an HIV test would they? The 1 in 7 figure represents both the known diagnosed fraction & the estimated undiagnosed fraction. The HPA calculate that 1 in 11 MSM are diagnosed in London (National MSM figure is 1 in 20).

            I would refer you to the PN story which highlighted the 1 in 7 figure back in 2010 – no doubt this figure as changed since the last study was undertaken.


            This figure is now out of date but we should not be lulled into a false sense of security by dismissing such estimates.

          6. Sister Mary Clarence 4 Dec 2012, 10:13am


            “This is clear evidence that the initiative was worthwhile & that the target demographic was chosen correctly.”

            It isn’t at all. you/they are working on the basis that ‘the gay comminunity’ is a single entity it would appear. It quite clearly is not, and aiming an event at the ‘gay community’ doesn’t tick any of the right boxes I’m afraid’

            Within the gay community there are many strands, and ‘risk’ varies for each. Many gay people do not partake in any form of sexual activity. This strand generally has low risk, others are out throwing it about every night, and consequently generally have a higher risk.

            Where those trolling up and down Compton Street fall is anybody’s business but the results show they aren’t in fact generally very high up the risk curve.

          7. I would rather rely on the professional judgement of those HIV clinicians that work in the Soho area than rely on your somewhat jaded & frankly overblown comments that belong in the Daily Wail.

            56 Dean Dean Street is the largest & busiest sexual health clinic in the UK & I am very sure that the lead Clinician there is much better placed to make judgements about risk, demographic & the epidemiology of HIV than you.

            I find it most odd that commentators like yourself can only find fault, yet you never proffer any solutions…………please take your hollow compassion & sympathy elsewhere, people living with HIV do not need to be portrayed as victims – it’s a virus for God sake the majority of us get on with life, it is the “worried well” like yourself that seems to have the big problem with HIV.

            No one has committed murder here!

          8. W6, with all due respect – and you are aware that I do have a good deal of
            respect for you – sometimes it’s easier to cling to “statistics, damn lies and

            At other times it’s best to be rational and ask, for example, if the national
            prevalence rate for HIV is 0.2% for the entire population and we’re also advised
            that 1 in 7 central London scene-goers are pos, then tests on 750 central
            London scene goers unaware of their HIV status should have yielded results at
            least 15 times higher than it did:- certainly not 4 times higher which you believe to be an accurate measure set against all the other mind-boggling stats that simply don’t add up or stand up to closer scrutiny.

            If the 0.8% figure is consistent with last year’s testing day stunt, then surely the bigger story is that HIV prevalence is far lower than all the official estimates suggest:- surely something to celebrate as opposed to trying to skew said figures to prop up the worst case HIV prevalence scenario?

          9. You are still missing the point Samuel – prevalence relates to both diagnosed & undiagnosed HIV. People going for an HIV test presume they are negative. Us positive individuals do not rock up to get anti-body tested just to fall in line the prevalence figures.

            You cannot compare overall prevalence (which is where the 1 in 7 figure comes from) with the results of the GAY outcomes. The GAY sample only contained the undiagnosed fraction – I really don’t understand why you don’t get this, perhaps I am not explaining myself properly but it seems pretty straight forward to me.

            I am not the one who had got all tongue tied over the statistics, it is yourself & other commentators who have been quoting statistics. I don’t really need these figures to tell me what is happening with new diagnosis & the threat that is out there I see the outcomes every day. All I am saying is that I believe we have turned a corner & lets hope this trend is real and not just a blip.

          10. As you can see I get really frustrated by all the mis-representation of these figures – but as you say what do they tell us? It seems to me that certain commentators have jumped on the GAY testing outcome to somehow provide them with comfort that perhaps HIV is not such a big problem after all, yet those very same commentators have quickly highlighted the 3,000 new infections & labelled them scandalous – they can’t have it both ways.

            I am very much aware that you respect my views & I acknowledge this, but I get so frustrated by the constant negative comments that we see written here – it seems to me that not one initiative relating to HIV is ever given any positive rating, not one!

            Even the community campaign poster produced by 56 Dean Street was given the thumbs down, despite it being harder hitting – I am at a loss as to what many of the commentators really want from the HIV/ sexual health services & I am sure they feel the same. Whatever the initiative is seems to be criticised!

          11. “This is clear evidence that the initiative was worthwhile & that the target demographic was chosen correctly. It isn’t at all. you/they are working on the basis that ‘the gay comminunity’ is a single entity it would appear.”

            I was quoting National Statistics in the UK population as a whole & comparing those statistics with the GAY cohort – if you read my comment again I do not refer to “the gay community” so please take the time to read what I have written rather than choose to mis-quote me to try and fit your argument – it won’t wash with me!

            We do not actually know that all the people tested at GAY identified as LGBT, you are making assumptions here, again to suit your argument. I am happy to engage in debate but when people like yourself decide you don’t like something but cannot really justify your thinking then frustration sets in & I tend to switch off. Good debate should have some basis in fact not just hearsay or no information!

          12. Samuel B. 4 Dec 2012, 3:04pm

            I would contend that we have been blinded with often conflicting statistics which has achieved nothing but instill fear in order to scare us to test, but clearly this approach is not working and neither is it proportionate to the actual scale of HIV prevalence which even you admit is showing signs of not being as high as we have long been led to believe.

            I think many are frustrated that World A!D$ Day focused entirely on testing at the expense of effective and impactful HIV campaigns that serve as a genuine deterrent to unsafe sex, which there is clearly a thirst for.

            Regarding the latest HIV rate, it’s not the 3000+ figure itself people are in uproar over but the fact that the rate is still rising after all these years:- particularly as it’s noted that the increased uptake in testing over the past 12 months had no influence in the dismal total.

            Assuming a gay male population of 1m, some 3000 new diagnoses is still only 0.003%, so surely 0% is in reach within the next 5 years?

          13. I would agree that at grass roots level statistics are not helpful as they are changing all the time, however we have to alert the MSM community that there are too many people walking around with undiagnosed HIV – the reasons for this is two fold;

            1) those undiagnosed people need to be identified & linked to care for the sake of their health,
            2) The more untreated virus that is out the the greater the concentration within the community which increases the risk of infection occurring.

            Testing & treatment is the population based approach to dealing with any epidemic – all epidemiologists will tell you that you have to minimise the source of the infection. What you are quite rightly concerned about is the grass roots impact HIV has on a particular community – the two often seem at odds with each other, but we all want the same goal! Perhaps is is wrong of the HIV charities to be more in-tune with the strategic view, I cannot judge that one as I see the benefit in both approaches.

        2. I also think you are somewhat confused with your arguments around deterrent messages – as you clearly believe that gay men have not been scared into testing as you put it, so why are they likely to be scared into using a condom consistently. We need intelligent campaigns that educate rather than act as a deterrent & there we have it, we are back to that old chestnut.

          Both of us have very deep rooted views on the deterrent verses a more liberal attitude towards prevention. We cannot wrap people up in cotton wool in my view, there are plenty of good resources available on the net. We are dealing with human irrationality here & young people think they are invincible. They go out clubbing, they see good looking muscled up guys having a great time who are +ve, this is a very powerful advert for younger guys I believe. It is difficult to then come along and say HIV is a big thing, because frankly many younger guys will not agree based on their own perceptions & evidence around them.

  9. So what have we learned from the record-breaking circus at GAY?

    That 1 in 100 participants tested positive, rather conflicting with the well-worn official “1 in 7” figure for scene going Londoners.

    Yet we are also now also being brainwashed into believing that 25,000 people are undiagnosed:- three times the estimated number of undiagnosed gay men.

    Are we now meant to believe straight people outnumber gays by 3 to 1 in undiagnosed HIV cases?

    There has been a feeding frenzy to pressure gay men to test, and it has used blatant scare tactics by inflating statistics to paint a more serious and potentially deadly picture than really exists.

    Who really stands to benefit from encouraging more of us to test in order to identify more people to put onto treatments when the reality of the situation is that the prevalence of HIV is far lower than “they” would have us believe?

    As ever, just follow the money trail…

    1. Exactly there is so much of a marketing campaign on getting gay men to get tested for HIV all it proves is that gay men with HIV actually went and got tested and diagnosed, it says nothing for whether gay people are more likely to have HIV or not just that more gay people with it got tested.

      The general population needs to be tested now not just gays and blacks because the media tells them they are more high risk (which could simply be because more of them get tested due to prior media campaigns)

    2. Sister Mary Clarence 3 Dec 2012, 12:04am

      I think what we need to ‘believe’ from this is that the testing was done in completely the wrong place. Logically the testing would have been much more worthwhile if it had been conducted at or close to an area known to be frequented by high numbers of people engaging is risky behaviour.

      I’m not aware that the clientele of GAY Bar fall into this category

      1. On the contrary, Sister Mary, GAY bar’s clientele far more represents a cross section of gay culture than, say, the patrons of Hard On.

        GAY bar is predominantly young and has a clientele that crosses all social classes and creeds, and is at the heart of gay London’s scene.

        If anyone wanting an accurate demographic of the extent of undiagnosed HIV among the most at-risk group in the country – under 30 London scene-goers – GAY bar is such a venue to conduct such a study.

        Which is no doubt why Jeremy Joseph thought it would be a great PR stunt to team up with 56 Dean Street.

        In retrospect they’ve done us a great service as the disclosure of only 6 diagnoses in 750 tests totally obliterates the very foundation on which the mass rally call for us all to test is based.

        The HIV sector now claims that those who were likely to test pos stayed away because they were too scared.


        If that were indeed so then that only reinforces what a sham this entire exercise is.

        1. Staircase2 3 Dec 2012, 1:18am

          The problem is that this event appealed to a certain mindset

          And, I suspect, the reason there was such a relatively low number of positive test results is in part probably due to the fact that those people who most likely already knew their status were the ones most likely to risk being drawn into a media circus.

          Which in effect negates the very reason for having the promotion in the first place.

          This was not and should not be the right place to test people. Nor is it the right way to encourage ‘the normalisation’ of testing as has been suggested by the organisations involved.

          Nor do I think this is the best way to commemorate World A*IDS Day, which as someone quite rightly pointed out above, should be about remembering those we have lost and encouraging awareness of the issue of HIV.

        2. Sister Mary Clarence 4 Dec 2012, 10:04am

          “If anyone wanting an accurate demographic of the extent of undiagnosed HIV among the most at-risk group in the country – under 30 London scene-goers – GAY bar is such a venue to conduct such a study.”

          I’m not aware though the purpose of the exercise was to identify incidence. I thought it was about identifying those who were positive and undiagnosed.

          The whole things was an expensive farce, and I can’t imagine how awful it must have been for the 6 people who tested positive and found themselves in the centre of a three ringed circus.

          I’m sure they had a head full of frightening and unwelcome thoughts to try to deal with whilst standing in the middle of a gay bar in Soho, surrounded by other people having a laugh and a drink. I’m sure this would only have compounded any initial fears of isolation and despair they experienced.

          I’m so disgusted by the whole thing.

          1. I would have hoped that they would have had the counselors on site to talk to those diagnosed positive but yes what a damper for the night.

    3. “That 1 in 100 participants tested positive, rather conflicting with the well-worn official “1 in 7″ figure for scene going Londoners”

      You are not comparing like with like Samuel. The 1 in 100 refers to the undiagnosed cohort only. As previously posted this is a prevalence of 10/1000 (5 times that of the National average which is 2/1000)

      The 1 in 7 figure refers to both diagnosed & undiagnosed HIV infections for those gay men frequenting the scene. (the HPA estimate 1 in 11, but one would expect the concentration to be greater in gay venues)

      I don’t believe these are scare tactics, but you are entitled to hold that view, if it makes you sleep easier at night! Given the wealth of evidence – particularly the new diagnosed figure of 3000 in 2011, which you have in the past been very vocal about (& assume you feel these figures are accurate) it would be foolish to underestimate the risk that is out there. Rubber up & don’t take cum in your mouth & you will be fine!

  10. Staircase2 3 Dec 2012, 1:20am

    And, on a personal note, the ridiculous reaction of Ben Cohen to my initially low key response to the Pink News article belies the fact that we can’t even say the words ‘World A*IDS Day’ on Pink News Comments Forum…

    Now what the fcvk is THAT about…?

    1. I can’t imagine the reason for censorship, but one possibility which crossed my mind was whilst it unfortunately flags “all” mention, perhaps the original intent was to address the issue of a “notorious undesirable poster” which most pink news contributors frequently reported and asked banned… the means to an end which in fairness Ben Cohen might not have fully anticipated affecting 1 Dec postings.

      1. Spanner1960 3 Dec 2012, 5:33am

        Whatever happened to free speech?
        This is an adult website and people should expect adult topics and language.
        if they don’t like it they should employ a moderator, not a fcking robot.

        1. Paul from Brighton 3 Dec 2012, 9:58am

          Personally, I think this forum should be moderated.

          Your post above is a perfect example of why this should be done.

          Here we have a discussion on HIV testing at gay bar in London now leading into a discussion on Free Speech.

          On other news boards, your post would be removed by a moderator, not because of your entitlement to free speech, but because you’re off topic.

          Mine would also be removed for the very same reasons!

          And of course, we’d never be having this conversation regarding free speech as a moderator would be able to pretty instantly pull the posts from the offending poster and then we could all use whatever words are appropriate to the particular story we’re replying to.

          Why is why this site needs moderators.

          1. “Off topic” being a convenient device in itself to oppress and censor free speech of course.

            PN posters should be aware that it isn’t just swear words and A!DS that are censored but certain political references too that expose the agenda that is pushing for the state regulation of the press and criminalisation of free speech, and which is using gays as pawns to whip up a frenzy of hysteria over even the slightest perceived insult to further its push as can be evidenced by many of the stories published here.

            A very sad day when reasonable freedom of expression is being outlawed on a site such as this.

          2. I agree Paul the site does require some form of moderation & I have discussed this with PN on several occasions. I guess it all comes down to money & having a robust policy in place that safeguards freedom of speech yet at the same time balancing that with some level of responsibility for what is written here. Having readers fully sign up would be a start I think as they do with many other comments pages.

            I get really frustrated by the inaccurate, out of date views I see posted here relating to HIV – a great deal of it belongs back in the 1980’s. But as I have found when you provide good quality information it often gets dismissed or is questioned beyond reason. This thread again shows me that when it comes to HIV it is so difficult to change perceptions – this is just adding to the problems relating to mis-information & creates fear & stigma.

    2. Guys, it isn’t just A!DS and swear words that are censored:- PN is also censoring posts that mention a recent press exposé of a liberal left wing “not for profit charity” that charges £5000 for week long training courses that teach public sector and charity personnel how to “lead beyond authority in a post-democratic world” and is actively campaigning against free speech and had placemen advising Levesdon and pushing for State regulation if the press.

      My mentioning of this “charity” on PN elicited 60 red arrows:- more than even the most heinous foul-mouthed anti gay rants, yet all I was doing was speaking the truth.

      The day has arrived on these boards where PN would sooner have foul-mouthed homophobes spewing their bile than have truth and the war against freedom of speech exposed, as clearly it is part of the agenda to use gay people as pawns to stir up hysteria against even the remotest perceived homophobic slur.

      Oh yes, and the “charity” in question is C0mm0n Purp0se.

  11. Well done to all who took part to make this event better this year than last. Not only did they test but more importantly the exposure from the broadcast media because of this event will mean the messages get across to a wider audience . Some may disparage this type of ‘gimmick’ for testing but one needs to look at the whole picture and on World AIDS Day it is about getting the message out to as wider audience as possible on the one day of the year we have to do so. This was covered on Sky News on Saturday and hopefully many more than those that tested in Soho on WAD will go on to test as a result.

  12. It would seem that posts are scanned for key words and not posted. I note that an earlier comment I made where I used the words for WAD hasn’t appeared. Why not?

  13. It would seem that the “stunt” that many have been so critical of has increased interest in the number of people gonig into 56 Dean Street today;

    This from my twitter feed –

    56 Dean Street ‏@56deanstreet

    We’ve seen a big increase in people coming to clinic for a HIV test today with people mentioning our event. We are here for you 6days a week

    All good stuff me thinks, perhaps now the critics will think again!

    1. Why not 7 days a week? I think you are your own worst critic. People have views and should be respected regardless what you believe is right or wrong – we all have a choice in life and HIV testing is one them. Shouldn’t need a publicity stunt in bar to entice people to test.

      People decide to test when they feel ready to do so.

      1. I was just relaying what 56 Dean Street was saying on Twitter that’s all – I don’t work for the organisation.

        Just providing a balanced view that is often caking here on Pink News! You are correct about choice & 745 people chose to test on Saturday at this outreach testing initiative – for me that says that 745 people now know their status & have taken control regardless of result.

        1. 745 do indeed now know their status:- I guess that just leaves several hundred thousand of us still to go.

          On that basis I would not be getting all excited by the fact that a few more people than usual on a Monday morning strolled into 56 Dean Street for a pin prick on the back of a misguided gimmick.

          1. Several hundred thousand???? The total figure for HIV infections in the UK has not yet reached 100,000. The estimate for 2011 was 96,000 (could be as low as 91,000 or as high as 102,000).

            I guess it depends on what you class as a big increase, but given that 56 Dean Street is the busiest HIV / STI clinic in the UK then I am very sure they are dealing in a good many tests and perhaps that trend will continue for the rest of the week.

            I am still very puzzled why testing is such a big deal – it is quick, non invasive & you can get an instant result in many clinics. If the G-A-Y story has shown anything it is that there is still a big reluctance to take a simple test, yet taking that test could prevent serious illness or even death!

            Very odd me thinks…………

          2. Samuel B. 4 Dec 2012, 3:11pm

            Not at all odd, W6.

            All gay men are being implored to test, so subtract all gay men in the UK who do test regularly from the estimated 1 million gay men who live on this small island of ours and, voila, that leaves several hundred thousand.

            That was a very basic and simple method of deduction to arrive at a dado able estimate, which could partly explain why so many of us have failed to grasp and get our heads around the complex statistical formulas you regularly deliver.

            It is quite evident that at least some if the official stats are bogus while others seem designed to bamboozle and trick us.

            Can NLP sleight of hand techniques be applied to statistics?

            If so then that would certainly explain a lot of the confusion.

          3. With all due respect Samuel it is your good self & other commentators who have been getting tied up in knots regarding the statistics, asking me to explain the 1 in 7 statistic, or explain why the GAY cohort of tests was not representative of HIV prevalence. If you are unclear about statistics that’s fine but why mention them?

            You cannot bank percentages of statistical information, my argument here is about testing, not about the stats around it – why is it such a big deal to regularly test? It makes perfectly good sense to get a full check up once a year, surely you can see the value in that?

            I find the HPA reports very easy to read & I have tried to explain the different ways statistics are used – I have no agenda here to bamboozle PN readers but have tired to use logic to my arguments.But of course as I have learned on PN some of the readership are not interested in an individual who knows a thing or two about HIV.

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