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

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

G-A-Y Bar on London’s Old Compton Street has broken its own Guinness World Record for the highest number of HIV tests to be carried out on World AIDS Day.

On Saturday 1 December, staff from 56 Dean Street, Chelsea and Westminster’s HIV and sexual health clinic in Soho, tested 745 people in a period of eight hours.

The figure is far higher than last year’s world record of 467, which was also carried out at the venue for World AIDS Day 2011.

Six people tested positive during Saturday’s testing session.

Dr Alan McOwen from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital said finding out early could add up to 16 years to life expectancy.

“Eighty per cent of people who catch HIV catch it from someone who doesn’t know themselves,” he told the BBC.

“So if we can reduce undiagnosed HIV, we’ll break transmission.”

The testing initiative took place just days after the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) released figures showing that more than three thousand gay and bisexual men became infected with the virus last year – the highest since records began.

Responding to the figures in a comment piece for, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell accused the government of “failing” gay and bisexual men and of being “complacent”.

All of the UK’s main three political leaders have released statements of support for this year’s World AIDS Day.

Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to HIV/AIDS care and prevention workers in his message and called for an increase in testing.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that discrimination against those living with the virus was “simply unacceptable”.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the fight against HIV was “incredibly important” for both the UK and the rest of the world.